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LAPD Warned To Wear Masks For TB Outbreak

Brianna Sacks |
February 25, 2013 | 8:28 p.m. PST

Editor At Large

(Health safety face masks/Creative Commons)
(Health safety face masks/Creative Commons)
The Skid Row Tuberculosis outbreak that emerged last week has Los Angeles police advising officers who patrol the area to wear protective face masks and avoid individuals displaying symptoms of the disease to help curb what public health officials are calling the largest TB outbreak in a decade.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the L.A. Police Department warning came after public health officials launched a new, rigorous plan in an effort to contain the highly contagious disease.

Nearly 80 cases of tuberculosis have been identified in L.A. County since 2007, sixty of which were among homeless people who live on and around Skid Row. Officials say 11 have died from the disease, which is a strain unique to Los Angeles with only a few reported cases outside the area.

This is the largest outbreak in a decade," said Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "We are really putting all of our resources into this."

              ALSO: L.A. Tuberculosis Outbreak Generates Federal Government Help

Public health officials are searching for about 4,600 people believed to have been exposed by TB, which is easily spread by inhaling droplets from an infected person’s cough, laugh or sneeze.

The United States has seen about 10,528 TB cases in 2011, according to the New York Times.

Homeless people are especially at risk because they have poor hygiene and nutrition, and are constantly moving among different shelters, streets and hospitals, which is why the LAPD wants the officers who patrol the area to practice stringent safety precautions.

"If you have reason to believe that you have been exposed to a person with TB, notify a supervisor immediately," the email from Capt. Michael Oreb said. "MSD [The City's Medical Services Division] will test any employee who has been occupationally exposed."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent scientists to Los Angeles to help determine how to stop the disease from spreading. And until public health officials develop a plan to help curb the outbreak, the L.A. Police Department does not want to take any chances.

Read the whole story at the L.A. Times

Reach Editor At Large Brianna Sacks here



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