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San Benito
February 27, 2024

Public toilets placed in Hollister to prevent Hepatitis A outbreak

The county’s public health officer Tuesday said the agency had two portable bathrooms placed in Hollister to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A in light of outbreaks in nearby communities.

Dr. Gail Newell gave a presentation to the board of supervisors, noting how one of the portable bathrooms had been placed in front of the old public health office on Fourth Street near the courthouse. She read from a statement in making a presentation to the board.

“Why are there portable toilets and hand-washing stations in Hollister? California had a recent Hepatitis A outbreak,” she said, noting how there have been outbreaks in nearby Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

“Many people have been hospitalized and some have died during these outbreaks,” she added.

The county’s efforts to prevent it are focused in areas with at-risk populations. People often get the virus by ingesting food or beverages with small amounts of feces from someone with Hepatitis A. She noted how it can range from causing mild illness for a few weeks to severe illness for several months, and can rarely cause death.

She said it’s often associated with homeless people or those in settings with illicit drugs.

Newell said the local public health agency actively responded, organizing a vaccination campaign targeting at-risk populations. She said the county will remove the bathrooms when outbreaks in California, and especially neighboring communities, are controlled.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho responded to her talk.

“We have a homeless problem in San Benito County, and people need the facilities to take care of themselves, and also the impacts on the whole community at large,” he said.

-Kollin Kosmicki

Video below of Public Health Officer Gail Newell talking about the San Benito County’s lawsuit against opioid companies.