Health Highlights: Oct. 16, 2017

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

State of Emergency Declared in California Over Hepatitis A Outbreak

A lack of vaccines to combat a hepatitis A outbreak in California has prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

The declaration means that the California Department of Public Health can immediately purchase and distribute vaccines to affected communities, CBS News reported.

To date, 576 cases of hepatitis A have been reported statewide, but a large majority of cases of have occurred in San Diego. Earlier this month, San Diego County officials declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak that has killed 16 people and hospitalized 300 more since last November.

Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties are also affected.

It’s the largest outbreak of the liver disease in the United States transmitted from person to person — rather than through contaminated food — since the hepatitis A vaccine became available in 1996, CBS News reported.

Most patients are homeless or drug users, but some are also employees at a health care facility working with those patients, according to a health official.


Possible Leptospirosis Deaths Being Investigated in Puerto Rico

Four deaths in Puerto Rico are being investigated as possible cases of leptospirosis, a disease spread by animals’ urine.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, a total of 10 people in the U.S. territory are suspected to have developed the disease, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said at a news conference, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

Some of them became ill after drinking from local streams. A third of customers in Puerto Rico still don’t have running water three weeks after the hurricane, and 90 percent of the island is still without power.

So far, at least 45 deaths have been blamed on Hurricane Maria.

Officials are working to deliver clean water to parts of the island that are difficult to reach due to storm damage. That includes air drops, according to Puerto Rico Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marn, CBS News/AP reported.