SAN DIEGO (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency to combat a hepatitis A outbreak that has claimed 18 lives in San Diego.

Brown said Friday that the proclamation will allow the state to increase its supply of vaccines. The state can now purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers and distribute them.

California is experiencing the largest hepatitis A outbreak in the United States transmitted from person to person — instead of by contaminated food — since the vaccine became available in 1996.

There are 576 cases reported throughout California, the vast majority in San Diego