Source: Legal Insurrection

California has been overwhelmed with a massive and deadly outbreak of Hepatitis A. The disease is largely being spread by the homeless population in cities such as San Diego. Now, a long-standing fear that the outbreak would spread has been realized. Two cases have been treated in Colorado that have been linked to California.

Hepatitis A attacks the liver and in some cases can be fatal. It is spread easily through person-to-person contact or consumption of food and water contaminated by fecal matter. Due to the interactions of the homeless population, their lack of hygiene, and use of the street at toilets, the disease has spread quickly.

The two cases in Colorado were homeless people as well. They spurred the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to begin working with shelters and health clinics. The groups are attempting to vaccinate people and warn them about the dangers of the disease.

Since March, California health officials have documented more than 500 cases in California. 19 people have died from the disease, almost all of them homeless. The state has been forced to scramble for solutions. They have installed portable handwashing stations, more outdoor toilets, and are even power washing the streets to get rid of fecal matter.

California is not the only state struggling with this disease. Colorado has seen double the amount of cases this year than last. Michigan has reported 14 times more cases than last year with more than 12 deaths.

Health officials want vaccinations for high-risk populations. Unsurprisingly, drug users and homeless people are not always cooperating with this plan. They often leave before treatment is concluded and refuse to disclose names of people they may have infected. This has resulted in a high frequency of resistance.

Adding to the complications, the strain is not one normally seen in the U.S. according to experts. They are calling the strain 1B and have stated that it is not necessarily stronger but just hitting the homeless harder.

The virus has a very long incubation period of 50 days. This is the time that the disease can be in the body before it begins to show symptoms. That means the person can be spreading the disease for almost two months without knowing it.

Unfortunately, given all these factors and the frequent moving around of the homeless, it is likely that the two cases in Colorado are only the beginning.