Hepatitis A outbreak has San Diego commuters wary of where they sit, what they touch


Photo: American Plaza Trolley Station – San Diego, CA. Eric Fredericks

Waiting in line to catch the San Diego Trolley on C Street on Friday afternoon, Wanda Hermes said she can’t help but think about the city’s ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in those moments when she’s touching the rails, seats and other surfaces that she encounters in the course of commuting to work in the morning and home at the end of the day.

Eyeing her big red ride as it pulled up to the downtown station, Hermes said the knowledge that there have been so many cases, more than 400 as of the last count, has made her more conscious of what she touches and which seat she chooses.

“It makes you think, maybe, you need to pay a little more attention more than you used to,” said Hermes, a city worker from La Mesa. “The people that are dirty, filthy, I don’t necessarily want to sit next to them.”

The fear in the air at the moment seems to be centered on the notion that shared surfaces and spaces might harbor malicious microbes, left by an infected person, that could transfer to the hands of the next individual to use that same handle or knob or buffet line utensil.

“I’m very worried about the people who are not getting vaccinated who are spitting and coughing and not covering their mouths, just a lot of things like that,” said Debbie Severson, a downtown resident waiting at the same trolley stop.

The question many may ask themselves is this: How much of this is simply paranoia? How likely is it that a person with hepatitis A might unintentionally leave behind a little something for the next somebody in line?

More at the LA Times