IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. - The Imperial County Public Health Department confirmed a case of Hepatitis A on Monday.
This case stems from the same case News 11 first reported in September where a homeless man was suspected of contracting the virus.
News 11 spoke to health officials and valley locals on this issue earlier today.
The CDC confirmed the case on Friday of last week, now the health department is educating the public on how to protect themselves and prevent this virus from spreading.
“It’s really surprising; it’s something that I never heard before here in the valley. It’s actually the first case that I ever hear about it,” said Rafael Oliveros, an El Centro resident.
The Hepatitis A virus is highly contagious and can cause liver disease.
The individual who contracted hepatitis a is described as middle-aged and homeless. He was living in the downtown area of San Diego before arriving in Imperial County in early September.
Public health officials would not confirm if he still is in Imperial County after being released from treatment.
“Hepatitis is a viral illness that is transmitted via the fecal-oral system, so anything that is brought into the mouth that is contaminated with feces of a person who has hepatitis a is the way that it is going to be transmitted,” said Karla Lopez, an epidemiologist with Imperial County Public Health Department.
A good way of preventing the spread of the virus is to wash your hands. Wash them after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before preparing food.
The public health department has held vaccination events and free shots are available to the homeless at their El Centro office.
“I am actually surprised and concerned because we haven't heard about it in the valley for a while. Take precaution, wash your hands, every place you go and eat just make sure that everything is cooked correctly,” said Juan Barrientos, a Brawley resident.
If you believe you have been exposed to hepatitis a, you should contact your healthcare provider or the public health epidemiology program.
They can be contacted at 442-265-1350.