Hepatitis A

San Diego Hepatitis A Outbreak, 2017

Since early 2017, the Public Health Services Division, in the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, has been investigating a local Hepatitis A outbreak. The outbreak investigation is ongoing. It has been challenging because of the long incubation period of the disease (15 to 50 days) and the difficulty experienced to contact many individuals sickened with the illness who are homeless and/or illicit drug users. To date, no common source of food, beverage, or other cause has been identified; as a result, the source of the outbreak remains undetermined.

Vaccination efforts are being implemented in targeted locations by County staff and in collaboration with health care partners. Health providers are asked to inform the Epidemiology Program if they have a patient suspected to have the hepatitis A infection, before the patient leaves the emergency department or provider’s office (see contact number below). 

For news stories and CAHAN Alerts to providers click here.

The table below will provide a weekly update of total cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.  Following this update is information about hepatitis A to educate the community and help prevent the continual spread of this viral infection.

San Diego County Hepatitis A Outbreak Cases and Deaths as of July 25, 2017*
*Table will be updated weekly by 4 p.m. each Tuesday

Cases Deaths Hospitalizations
275 7 194 (71%)

Please note: Table does not include all reported hepatitis A cases in the county; only those that are local-outbreak-related. Also, data are provisional and subject to change.


What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is highly contagious. It can cause liver disease, lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting months. In some cases, people can die.

Take CDC's Hepatitis Risk Assessment and get a personalized report in 5 minutes.

How Is It Transmitted?

HAV is usually transmitted by:

  • Touching objects or eating food that someone with HAV infection handled.
  • Having sex with someone who has a HAV infection.

What Are the Symptoms?

HAV does not always cause symptoms. Some people get HAV and have no symptoms of the diseases. Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes (jaundice), stomach pain, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, and diarrhea.

Hepatitis A can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.

Who Is At Increased Risk for Getting HAV Infection?
  • Individuals who are homeless.
  • Individuals who work with homeless and/or users of illegal drugs.
  • Travelers to countries with high or medium rates of HAV.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
  • Persons with clotting factor disorders.

Note: individuals with chronic liver disease (i.e., cirrhosis and hepatitis C) may not be at increased risk of getting HAV infections but are at increased risk of having poor outcomes if they are infected with HAV.

How Can HAV Be Prevented?

  • Get two shots of the HAV vaccine. The vaccine may be given as a twin vaccine against both Hepatitis A and B.
  • Don’t have sex with someone who has HAV infection.
  • Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils.
  • Don’t share food, drinks, or smokes with other people.

Where Can I Get Vaccinated?

  • Call 2-1-1 to find a community clinic near you to request the HAV vaccine.
  • Click here to see a list of community health centers.
  • Click here for a list of Public Health Center Immunization Clinic sites.

What If I Need Additional Assistance or Treatment?

Please contact your local healthcare provider.


By Phone

  • County HIV, STD and Hepatitis Branch—619-293-4700
  • California AIDS, STD and Hepatitis Hotline—800-367-AIDS (2437) (24 hours/day, 7 days/week)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Information Hotline—800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) (24 hours/day, 7 days/week)

Educational Information


News Stories

CAHAN Alerts

For more information, contact the Epidemiology Program at 619-692-8499 or send us an e-mail.