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Los Angeles Tuberculosis Outbreak Generates Federal Government Help

Max Meyer |
February 21, 2013 | 5:36 p.m. PST

Executive Producer


Public health officials have launched a new program to help Los Angeles slow down its tuberculosis outbreak downtown on skid row. There are more than 4,500 people that could have been exposed to the virus, which would make it the largest outbreak in a decade according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The Los Angeles Times also reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sent out scientists to help Los Angeles health officials figure out how to prevent the spreading of the disease. 

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that infects the lungs and can affect other parts of the body. The disease can be spread by coughing. People on skid row tend to live in highly populated areas and are contact with several people in poor living conditions, which could be one of the reasons for the outbreak. 

MORE: Flu Outbreak Strains Hospitals, Puts Latinos Most At Risk

Due to their living conditions which include poor hygiene and limited access to doctors, homeless people have the greatest risk of contracting the virus. 11 people have died from tuberculosis in Los Angeles since 2007, including several of them who live around skid row. Additionally, close to 80 cases of the disease were confirmed in that same time period. 

Just four years ago, tuberculosis cases in California were at a record low with a rate of seven people infected out of 100,000. In fact, the rates of people contracting the disease have been decreasing worldwide. Treatments are available for tuberculosis, and it usually lasts between six and nine months. 


Reach Executive Producer Max Meyer by email, or follow him on Twitter.



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