Hepatitis A outbreak sparks public restroom concerns - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Hepatitis A outbreak sparks public restroom concerns

The Sacramento City Council plans to revisit the issue of portable restrooms for the homeless after a Hepatitis A epidemic in southern California. (Source: KTXL/CNN) The Sacramento City Council plans to revisit the issue of portable restrooms for the homeless after a Hepatitis A epidemic in southern California. (Source: KTXL/CNN)

SACRAMENTO, CA (KTXL/CNN) - A Hepatitis A epidemic in southern California is causing one city to look at its policy on portable toilets.

The Sacramento City Council plans to revisit the issue of portable restrooms for the homeless in its city because of the epidemic.

It's something homeless people think about every day several times a day, where to relieve themselves, especially when businesses are closed or not accommodating.

"They get an idea or suspect you're homeless, they'll ask you to leave. It's happened to me," one person said.

The problem has plagued Sacramento for 30 years, but now it's more than an aesthetic or odor problem.

The recent outbreak of Hepatitis A which has killed 17 people and hospitalized 337 in southern California has heightened the alarm.

It's spread by people who use the bathroom, don't wash their hands and then handle food or other objects.

Last year, city council member Jeff Harris sponsored a six-month experiment with his pit stop toilet in a homeless area that came with an attendant, but it proved too expensive.

Still it was used 25,000 times.

"Where do you think those people went to the bathroom? A lot of it was public defecation and urination, and we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning it up," Harris said.

Harris said public restrooms are needed by the general public as well.

The cost of repairing trashed toilets is a huge concern for council member Steve Hansen.

"We've never really figured out how to maintain them," Hansen said.

While many businesses allow the homeless to use their restrooms, he cited one midtown incident.

"Let a homeless person use the restroom and that person broke the water pipes and flooded the business causing $20,000 in damage," Hansen said.

Many of the homeless said 24-hour restrooms would be welcome.

Copyright 2017 KTXL via CNN. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly