SAN DIEGO — San Diego County health officials are closely monitoring a rise in Hepatitis A cases within the last month.

“We’ve seen this increase in cases and even though they don’t appear to be linked right now, we don’t want this to become an outbreak,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Deputy Public Health Officer with the county of San Diego.

Dr. Kaiser says Hepatitis A is not rare, with the county seeing about two to three cases reported a month. Recently there have been five cases of the virus, resulting in one death.

Three of the recent cases were among the homeless population.

“Because it can spread quickly and live for a long time in the environment, we’re always careful about Hepatitis A in our vulnerable populations. Especially those who have low immunity or poor vaccination rates in our shelter and encampment populations are particularly at risk,” Dr. Kaiser said.

It’s a highly contagious liver infection, usually spread by touching objects or eating food that’s come in contact with the virus, or it can be sexually transmitted.

“To the county’s credit I’ve been getting really good information in a timely manner that I’m turning around and pushing out to my team,” said Paul Armstrong, Vice President of Programs at San Diego Rescue Mission.

The San Diego Rescue Mission is one of many homeless outreach and support groups the county has been in contact with to help provide sanitation and prevention strategies.

“Making sure they know where they can go to get cleaned up and reduce the risk of coming into contact with it, making sure they know where they can get hygiene kits, and most of all getting them vaccinated,” said Dr. Kaiser.

While the county keeps a close eye on cases, they are asking healthcare professionals and those who work with vulnerable populations to be on alert for patients showing signs of Hepatitis A.