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Maricopa County hepatitis A outbreak traced to San Diego

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A federal agency said an outbreak of hepatitis A in Maricopa County was limited to 15 nonfatal cases but was related to the deadly flare-up of the virus in California.

The Centers for Disease Control’s published report said the virus has been spreading from homeless shelters in the San Diego area, where 17 have died.

Samples of the strain from Maricopa County matched the San Diego strain. Infectious-disease researchers said the Arizona shelter’s outbreak happened around the same time as the February arrival of a homeless person from San Diego.

Public health experts have said the California outbreak was one of the worst in the country in decades.

Dr. Sally Ann Iverson of the CDC and a team from the Maricopa County Health Department noted in the report surveillance “is ongoing.”

The virus is transmitted through contaminated food, water or direct contact with an infectious person, according to the World Health Organization. The carrier has touched human waste, blood, bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces.

Keeping clean greatly reduces the spread.

The majority of hepatitis A sufferers completely recover. The disease to the liver runs the gamut from mild to severe sickness and can take from two weeks to nearly month before symptoms appear.

Symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, nausea and jaundice.

Health workers in California have been vaccinating homeless to try to control further infections.