San Diego County’s hepatitis A outbreak may just be on the brink of spreading elsewhere. Two tourists who visited San Diego for a Metallica concert have reportedly contracted cases of the infection upon their return to Utah.
Mike Johnson and Josh Oviatt informed the San Diego Union-Tribune that they had visited San Diego in August, ABC News reports. They were then diagnosed with hepatitis A one month later. Oviatt, 44, was hospitalized for four days. A third person who was with them had been vaccinated and did not fall ill.
Johnson said that he and his friends ate at World Famous, a Pacific beach restaurant where a worker had tested positive for the liver-damaging disease. An official of San Diego County told the Union-Tribune that they know about these cases.
Michael Workman, spokesperson for the county, said,
We are certain they did not contract hepatitis A from our known case [at World Famous]. More likely culprits would be publicly-shared bathrooms on or off property, another unknown infected person, or any contaminated surface in or around the establishment.
World Famous had reportedly violated California food laws, according to county inspection records. However, the managers of the restaurant stated that the inspection problems were a coincidence and had nothing to do with hepatitis A.
Johnson said that his eyes and skin had turned a shade of yellow, and that his doctors said he was nearing liver failure. “It was a nightmare. I was sleeping 14 to 16 hours a night. I couldn’t walk more than 100 feet without getting tired,” Johnson said. “It was a phenomenal weekend, but we’re paying for it now. I essentially sacrificed six months of my life for that one weekend of fun.”
San Diego continues to battle the worst hepatitis A outbreak in the United States in decades. There have been 20 deaths as a result, mostly among the homeless population. So far, 544 cases have been confirmed in the county.