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California city declares a public health emergency after tuberculosis sickens 14

NBC NEWS – A tuberculosis outbreak in Long Beach comes amid a national rise in cases.

The City Council of Long Beach, California has authorized a public health emergency in response to a local outbreak of tuberculosis.

The city’s health officer, Dr. Anissa Davis, declared the emergency last week, after its health department detected 14 tuberculosis cases at a single-room occupancy hotel. The City Council vote on Tuesday night served as the final approval for the declaration.

Nine tuberculosis patients have been hospitalized and one has died, according to the health department. As of Monday, about 175 people had been exposed to tuberculosis as a result of the outbreak.

In a news release last week, the department said that “the population at risk in this outbreak has significant barriers to care including homelessness and housing insecurity, mental illness, substance use and serious medical comorbidities.”

“The City of Long Beach identified 3,376 homeless people in January 2024.” – KLA TV, May 8, 2024

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The department added that it is testing people who were exposed. No new cases have been reported since last week.

The outbreak was reported amid a national rise in tuberculosis cases, which have increased since 2020 after 27 years of decline. The U.S. recorded 9,615 active infections last year — a 16% increase over the previous year.

The emergency declaration should free up resources for tuberculosis screening and treatment, according to the Long Beach health department.

“The health department is mostly grant funded, so we need to have the structure in place so that we can get our internal resources where they’re needed most right now,” said Jennifer Rice Epstein, the health department’s public affairs officer.

The Long Beach health department said it is isolating patients who are infectious, treating them and providing them with temporary housing, food and transportation as needed.

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People experiencing homelessness have a higher risk of tuberculosis for several reasons, including substance use — which can weaken the immune system — and living in crowded conditions where it is more likely to spread … READ MORE.

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