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Chula Vista steps up fight against hepatitis A

SAN DIEGO – As San Diego County officials scramble to stop a deadly hepatitis A outbreak, the virus continues to spread throughout the region.

The City of Chula Vista Thursday reported 17 confirmed cases, prompting officials to hold a free vaccination event Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chula Vista South Library, located at 389 Orange Avenue.

Next week, hand washing stations will be temporarily placed in 13 locations around the city, including five parks: Lauderbach, Harborside, Bay Blvd., Memorial and Orange.

“I used to come here with my granddaughter and now we can’t do it because the restrooms don’t work. There’s not enough cleaning and there's not enough security,” park-goer Rosalina Nichols said.

El Cajon started hosting its own vaccination clinics Thursday and has begun power washing its streets. The city also plans to add hand washing stations to its parks.

In downtown San Diego Thursday, 250 people received vaccinations. So far, more than 28,000 San Diegans have been vaccinated.

The outbreak, which started in November, has primarily hit the homeless and drug users. However, health officials are now encouraging anyone who is concerned about contracting the virus to get vaccinated.

Since November, San Diego County has seen 444 hepatitis A cases – as many as the combined total reported by California, Texas and New York in all of 2015, the most recent year for which statewide data are available.

The county says most of the cases have been from downtown San Diego, El Cajon, Santee and La Mesa.

Given the incubation period of 15 to 50 days, health officials expect the outbreak to continue an additional six months.