The Consulate General of China in Los Angeles, capital of California, US issued an emergency circular on Tuesday, telling Chinese citizens to be cautious about a hepatitis A outbreak there that had claimed at least 18 lives as of Friday.
The hepatitis A breakout in the region is the largest person-to-person hepatitis transmission in the US since 1995, the year a vaccine against the disease was introduced, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Also, in this bout of hepatitis A, a total of 581 people have caught the disease in California, in addition to the 18 deaths.
California's Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state needed to declare a public health emergency on Friday and that the state public health department would need to purchase vaccines soon and distribute them to high-risk groups.
The genotype of the hepatitis A virus is IB, which is very rare. It is transmitted primarily person-to-person. It currently is found mainly among the homeless, or drug abusers and in other places with poor health conditions.
The Chinese Consulate General's circular reminds Chinese to be on the alert and to pay extra attention to personal hygiene. It said that the virus can survive in the environment for a long time once it's introduced, and that the epidemic could last a few years.
It specifically pointed to food safety as something to pay attention to and strongly recommended hepatitis A vaccine for all children. Adults are advised to get the vaccine 4 weeks before going to any high risk regions or coming in contact with high risk people.