Treatment center residents may have been exposed to Hepatitis A

SAN DIEGO — Residents at the Volunteers of America Renaissance Treatment Center between June 19 and June 21 may have been exposed to hepatitis A, San Diego County health officials announced Friday.

Health and Human Services Agency officials recommend vaccination for anyone who was at the National City facility during that span.

“Hepatitis A can be prevented with vaccination if it is given within 14 days of exposure,” said Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “Those who may have been exposed at VOA should be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis A and seek care immediately if they occur. Adults at risk for hepatitis A can get the vaccine at no cost at any county public health center.”

The vaccine is also available at many local clinic and pharmacies. Those interested can call 211 to locate a public health center or clinic.

Those already vaccinated or who have had the infection don’t need vaccination.

Hepatitis A symptoms include acute abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, light-colored bowel movements and vomiting, as well as yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Symptoms may appear 15 to 50 days after exposure, with the average time being about one month. Sickness can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious one lasting several months. In rare cases, hepatitis A may prompt liver failure in those with a pre-existing severe illness or a compromised immune system.

County officials generally recommend several groups seek hepatitis A vaccinations, including the homeless, illegal drug users, gay or bisexual men, those with chronic liver disease, people who work with the homeless or drug users and food handlers with adult clients.

From March 2017 into the beginning of 2018, San Diego County faced the largest hepatitis A outbreak the United States had seen in 25 years. Centered on the city’s homeless population, upwards of 600 people contracted the infection. Twenty died.