LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Hoping to curb the spread of hepatitis A, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a plan to install portable toilets and hand-washing stations near densely populated homeless encampments in four unincorporated areas and along the Los Angeles and San Gabriel riverbeds.
Supervisor Hilda Solis said it was a matter of need.
“Having an area to wash your hands is a human rights issue, but today we are making sure our at-risk communities have access to this basic human need,” Solis said.
The toilets and hand-washing stations will be available as long as the hepatitis A outbreak lasts, which will likely be at least six months, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the board.
Reports of the disease among the homeless have spiked in recent months in Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Cruz, causing L.A County to declare an official outbreak in September.
The outbreak is worst in San Diego, where more than 560 cases and 20 deaths have been reported. The state has vaccinated over 80,000 at-risk people to try to fight the spread of the disease and Gov. Jerry Brown declared of a state of emergency in October due to the outbreak.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease that can spread easily through homeless populations because it thrives in unsanitary conditions and is primarily spread through contact with feces via surfaces or sexual contact.
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