A hepatitis A outbreak is killing California’s homeless population

Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz Photo By: Gregory Bull

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Hepatitis A is a virus that damages the liver and causes it to swell. Many of the initial symptoms look like a stomach flu, but Hepatitis A can also cause the skin and the whites of your eyes to turn yellow, because the liver stops being able to filter out toxins in the blood. In the past 11 months, 569 people have been infected and 17 have died of the virus in Southern California. Now it is said to be the second-largest outbreak in the US in the last 20 years. Homeless people are the particularly high-risk population for hepatitis A outbreaks. Because they don’t have access to clean water or basic sanitation, and are living in close proximity to one another. Many are also drug users. Without access to healthcare, hepatitis A infections can be lethal.

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