Hepatitis A Outbreak in Philadelphia Leaves City Scrambling

Philadelphia isn't the first city to deal with a Hepatitis A outbreak after wavering on the question of whether to deploy public bathrooms and hygiene stations

August 2, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Philadelphia Homeless

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The city of Philadelphia is dealing with a worsening outbreak of hepatitis A, with 117 confirmed cases this year to date—in a city that normally sees a maximum of six cases a year.

Jake Blumgart reports on the ongoing health crisis in Philadelphia, where the city is responding by deploying public bathrooms and stand-alone hand-washing facilities.

"Kensington, ground zero of the region’s opioid crisis, where many people struggling with addiction live on the streets, has grappled with poop on the street, in parks and on porches for years. Hepatitis A spreads primarily through contact with fecal matter," writes Blumgart.

The article includes personal testimony of encounters with the disease, as well as a recent history of the politics surrounding public restrooms in Kensington. "Community leaders were originally split over the question [of placing public bathrooms in Kensington], with some fearing that public restrooms would encourage more people to stay in the neighborhood," according to Blumgart.

Hepatitis A outbreaks have followed large homeless populations with greater frequency in recent years, inspiring some action toward the installation of public hygiene and homeless support facilities in cities like San Diego and Los Angeles.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 in PlanPhilly

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