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San Diego begins sanitary street washing to combat hepatitis A outbreak

14 September 2017
San Diego begins sanitary street washing to combat hepatitis A outbreak

According to CBS8, the city's mayoral spokeswoman Craig Gustafson assured that these cleaning-practices were scheduled to happen three times a week, every other week.

Officials with the city said this is a 30-day pilot program.

While the city has worked on finding housing opportunities for the homeless, the decision also comes in the wake of a deadly hepatitis A outbreak, which has largely impacted the homeless. However, they didn't see many differences in the following days, so they added something more to their strategy.

Mike Saag, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham focused on infectious diseases, tells NPR that he finds San Diego's street washing approach reasonable for stemming the spread of Hepatitis A: "If there's a sanitation problem, then the thing to do is clean up the area, and bleach is probably the best disinfectant that we have for this type of viral infections". "It makes sense that, if they're doing it there and they haven't had any cases, it could be beneficial here as well". Of those 3,231 were living on the street. They announced in July that they had raised enough money to secure at least two tents, which could accommodate 250 people each.

This might mean that the number of homeless people for whom the government has estimated to create housing programs could be actually greater.

San Diego's homeless population has skyrocketed - the number of people living on downtown streets is up some 27 percent to almost 1,300, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The city responded to a letter sent by San Diego County Thursday, asking the city to move forward with a list of specific sanitation actions created to help control the spread of the disease, which has killed 15 people and hospitalized almost 300, many of them homeless and living on streets without adequate access to restrooms or showers.

The city is giving free vaccinations, installing hand-washing stations and power-washing streets.

"Frankly we can't take any more time worrying what group will be offended, lives are on the line, we need to take action", the mayor said. More than half (65%) are homeless, illicit drug users, or both. These recommend people, especially those at a higher risk, to get vaccinated.

"I literally had no idea until yesterday which is kind of scary", Laura Johnson, a small business owner downtown, said.

The move by the city to start sanitizing the streets came after San Diego County wrote a letter to the city Thursday.