The Wreckage of the Past –
March 16, 2018 – San Diego’s huge outbreak of hepatitis A – a preventable but deadly virus that is spread through contact with human feces – captured national media attention in September. The city began washing streets it believed were contributing to the problem with bleach and initiated a local vaccination campaign among the communities most affected. Soon, it was out of the national conversation. But similar outbreaks have continued throughout the country, still largely among the homeless and illicit drug-using populations who are most vulnerable to the disease, with few national headlines in sight. Meanwhile, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – which the agency itself calls the “voice of the CDC” – has not provided accurate year-end numbers for hepatitis A, making the disease appear less widespread than it truly is. A HuffPost analysis of CDC and California Department of Health data has found that from 2016 to 2017, hepatitis A cases shot up 48.7 percent nationwide – an unprecedented spread of the sometimes deadly virus. That contrasts with what the CDC has reported in the MMWR: a mere 5.4 percent increase. The CDC declined to publicly comment on the 48.7 percent figure.