California declares emergency to fight hepatitis A outbreak

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California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a state of emergency to combat a hepatitis A outbreak that has claimed 18 lives in San Diego.

Brown said the federally-funded supply of vaccines is inadequate. His proclamation allows the state to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers and distribute them.

California is experiencing the largest hepatitis A outbreak in the United States transmitted from person to person — instead of by contaminated food — since the vaccine became available in 1996.

There have been 576 cases throughout California, including 490 in San Diego County and 71 in Santa Cruz County. Of those, 386 have been hospitalized, including 342 in San Diego and 33 in Santa Cruz.

Congressman Darrell Issa on Friday called on the federal government to provide emergency funding to halt the spread of the virus. He said the outbreak has brought statewide totals to three times the number of reported cases in 2015.

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This story has been corrected to show the number of cases is 576, not 578.

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