Hepatitis A Outbreak: L.A. City’s Homeless Policies a Threat

Beyond bleaching sidewalks, the City of Los Angeles should immediately deploy portable toilets and hand-washing stations and put a halt to rousting homeless encampments.

“Concentrate instead on improving overall sanitary conditions,” said Michael Weinstein.

LOS ANGELES (September 20, 2017) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today warned that an emerging outbreak of Hepatitis A in Los Angeles that follows a larger statewide outbreak may be both the result of, and further fueled by deplorable living conditions of homeless populations here in Los Angeles. The statewide outbreak, which began in San Diego County where it has killed at least 16 people and infected almost 450, also spread to Santa Cruz, where it is thought that nearly 70 people became infected, according to reporter Soumya Karlamangla, reporting in the Los Angeles Times.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County health officials declared a formal outbreak of Hepatitis A after the number of those infected in Los Angeles County rose to 10 individuals—including two who appear to have no connection or link to the outbreaks in San Diego or Santa Cruz.

“We acknowledge County officials for quickly declaring a formal outbreak of Hepatitis A while the actual numbers of cases are still relatively low here; however, this declaration must be followed with immediate and forceful actions: Portable toilets and hand-washing stations should be deployed immediately and the City of Los Angeles should put an immediate halt to rousting homeless encampments and concentrate instead on improving overall sanitary conditions,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF.  This outbreak is a result of, and is likely to be further fueled by the deplorable living conditions of homeless populations in Los Angeles. L.A.’s homeless population vastly outnumbers those of any other city, county or region in the state, so the potential for an epidemic is very real. Swift, comprehensive action to halt the spread of infection and care for those infected in Los Angeles must be taken immediately.”

According to a news report earlier this summer in the Los Angeles Times, the homeless population in Los Angeles County as of May 2017 is now nearly 58,000—a jump of 23% since 2016—a development which Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn called at the time, “staggering.”