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Hepatitis scare in Lancaster

OW Staff Writer | 9/8/2017, midnight

A street fruit vendor in Lancaster has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, and health officials have warned that anyone who brought fruit at that stand could have been exposed to the communicable disease.

The vendor was working the corner of West Avenue L at 20th Street West, just west of the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway.

The infectious disease may have been transmitted between Aug. 15-22, according to a statement released on Labor Day by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Persons who purchased fruit from this location should get an immune globulin shot, or hepatitis A vaccination within the next week to prevent the illness, or make its effects weaker, the county advised.

Free vaccinations will be offered this week at the Antelope Valley Public Health Center, located at 335-B E. Avenue K6, in Lancaster.

The Antelope Valley outbreak may be related to hepatitis A outbreaks in Santa Cruz and San Diego, said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county's interim health officer.

In San Diego, additional portable hand-washing stations were installed last week in an effort to stem an outbreak of Hepatitis A on the city's homeless camps downtown, which has claimed 15 lives and sent more than 260 people to hospitals.

The illness has hit the homeless population particularly hard, prompting San Diego County health officials to call for the installation of the stations at 30 locations around the city.

That action came a day after the San Diego County public health officer directed the city to use special sanitizing procedures to wash down areas in the public right-of-way, such as streets and sidewalks, and expand access to restroom and hand-washing facilities.