SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Public Health officials are taking precautionary measures to protect residents from the Hepatitis A outbreak that other parts of the state have been experiencing.
Since early 2017, San Diego County has identified 444 cases of Hepatitis A, including 16 deaths. A majority of the cases are in the homeless and illicit drug use populations. Outbreaks of Hepatitis A have since been identified in Santa Cruz County (69 cases) Los Angeles County (10 cases) and Orange County (1 case).
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A Virus. This infection can be prevented by a vaccine.
The county partnered with many groups including Salvation Army to provide free Hepatitis A vaccinations at the Hospitality House on 423 Chapala Street on Tuesday, September 26, between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m.
The 'Homeless Connect' event is the first for the city. It included a network of different agencies specializing in providing services and information for the homeless population.
"We just want to be of service and help these folks get to their destination. Whether that's permanent housing, in other cases it's finding clinics they need and the little things like a haircut, a shower and restoring their dignity," said Lieutenant Jeff Walters, Salvation Army.
Here are some tips from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department on how you can protect yourself from Hepatitis A virus:
• Getting vaccinated through your primary health care provider.
• Washing your hands with soap and water before eating drinking or handling food.
• Buying food or drinks from food trucks or carts with permits from the health department.