Health News

TB Outbreak Sparks Public Health Emergency as 1 Fatality Reported

Visual Representation for TB infection | Credits: iStock

United States: Tuberculosis, which is also known as TB, has been spreading across the United States and causing a threat to the general public of the nation. Recently, the concerns were heightened after an outbreak linked to TB was reported inside a California hotel housing homeless people. 

According to the authorities, this outbreak has turned out to be deadly, leading to the death of one person, which has forced the health authority to declare a public health emergency. 

The details of the matter has been shared by the Department of Health and Human Services for Long Beach, however the hotel name was not disclosed. As per the latest update, around 14 people have reportedly fallen sick, out of which nine (9) were admitted to hospital and are seeking treatment. The health department has also now shared the identity of the people who have lost their lives to the infection. 

Reportedly, the city officials were quoted saying, “The outbreak is currently isolated to a distinct population, and the risk to the general public is low.”

Visual Representation for an individual dealing with TB | Credits: Getty Images

The announcement further read, “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,” according to the reports by Fox News. 

In addition to this, the health officials have also asked for city’s preparedness and professional’s response to the outbreak. 

The official data has revealed that as many as 170 people are likely to be exposed to TB, and continuous screening and testing are advised to review symptoms. Along with this, chest X-rays are also advised.

The health authorities have also assured that proper treatment will be given to the possible active TB patients and individuals with latent TB infection. They have also mentioned that the name of the hotel has not been disclosed to protect the privacy of the patient – as outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. However, it has been mentioned that the hotel was not operated by or contracted with the City of Long Beach. 

TB and its impact on the public!

Health experts have outlined that particularly Tuberculosis is transmitted through air particles, and it affects the lungs at first and can also spread to other body parts such as the kidneys, spine, and brain. However the health authorities have also highlighted that it is not as contagious as SARS-CoV-2, which has resulted in COVID-19 pandemic. 

Visual Representation | Credits: Shutterstock

While addressing the concern related to the infection, a New York City-based double board-certified doctor – Dr Janette Nesheiwat, stated, “You can catch tuberculosis if someone is coughing or sneezing or in close contact, the bacteria from those particles get into the air and anybody nearby will breathe that in — and that’s how they pick it up and that’s how they catch it,” according to the reports by Fox News. 

According to the CDC, the recent TB outbreak was announced after highest TB linked cases were recorded in the year 2023. The federal agency highlighted that during the previous year, the nation reported highted number of cases in a decade. The official data has revealed that the cases were increased to 9,615 in 2023 from 8,320 in 2022 and the total number of cases reported in 2013 were nearly 10,000. 

Along with California, Chicago has also reported “a few” cases linked to Tuberculosis (TB) at migrant facilities in the city.

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