Illegal Invaders Spreading TB in USA!


Senior Editor
TB strain found in 18 Florida counties

The tuberculosis strain that has rocked Florida politics and raised questions of undue government secrecy is referred to as FL 046 by epidemiologists, the professionals who track disease outbreaks.

Last year, in the shelters and halfway houses where Jacksonville’s homeless congregate, it bloomed into the nation’s most extensive, fastest-growing TB outbreak, one described by a visiting official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as among the worst his group had seen in 20 years.

Although state health officials maintain the outbreak is now mostly contained within the Jacksonville homeless, a state database obtained by The Palm Beach Post on Friday showed sick people with FL 046 have also popped up in 17 other Florida counties. About 23 percent of all FL 046 cases have occurred outside Duval County, analysis suggests, and most of those have been identified in the past two years.

Tuberculosis has been a disease in decline in most of the United States, and Florida. In 2011, 10,521 cases of active TB were recorded in the United States. Florida had 753 cases of TB, down from 835 in 2010.

But across the nation, areas that serve the homeless have had a more difficult time controlling the disease. Treatment for an uncomplicated case can require six months on a cocktail of multiple antibiotics, while drug-resistant strains can take two years to treat, often with drugs that are much more expensive and difficult to find. People without a fixed address and those with substance abuse and mental health problems pose significant problems for public health authorities trying to contain an outbreak. Complicating matters, infected people can have a latent form that can lurk for years before surfacing.

In Jacksonville, health officials are treating 234 people with latent disease with preventive antibiotics. They are also making progress at reaching contacts of people with active TB to test them. Since January, Duval County Health Department officials have screened nearly 2,100 people who may have come in contact with people with active tuberculosis, an agency spokeswoman said.

In April, the CDC’s team’s assessment that called Florida’s outbreak the worst in 20 years also projected that more than 3,000 people had been in close contact with the sick, but only a few hundred had been evaluated at that time.

The report had not been widely circulated until The Post published it July 8. Key legislators who had pushed for the downsizing of the Department of Health and the closure of the state’s only tuberculosis hospital in March said they hadn’t been briefed.

The Bobster

Senior News Editor since 2004

Downtown L.A. TB outbreak: LAPD urges officers to wear masks
February 25, 2013 | 1:51 pm 813

Los Angeles police over the weekend warned officers who patrol the skid row area to wear protective masks and minimize face-to-face contact with suspects or the public if there is reason to believe that they are infected with tuberculosis.

The warning, contained in an internal communication to officers and employees in the department's Central Division, comes after The Times reported that public health officials have launched a new, coordinated effort to contain what they are calling the largest TB outbreak in a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have dispatched scientists to Los Angeles to help local health officials gain a better understanding why TB is spreading and strategies on how to stop it.

Public health officials are searching for more than 4,500 people who may have been exposed to the disease. In all, nearly 80 tuberculosis cases have been identified and 11 people have died since 2007, most of them homeless people who live in and around skid row.

Scientists have recently linked the outbreak to a tuberculosis strain that is unique to Los Angeles, with a few isolated cases outside the area.

Tuberculosis is easily passed along. It is contracted by inhaling droplets from infected patients when they sneeze, cough or laugh. When left untreated, the disease can be deadly. The skid row strain can be treated by all anti-TB medications. Treatment lasts six to nine months.

LAPD officers who patrol the area have long been warned to be on the lookout for people on the street who exhibit symptoms of communicable diseases which include Hepatitis to HIV and staph infections to drug-resistant TB. Officers must also contend with individuals who have parasitic conditions like scabies and lice.

While noting that risk to law enforcement from TB is "very small," the internal communique nonetheless warns employees to take precautions to reduce the chance of exposure.

"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 email also recommends that officers carry protective masks them with them into the field and don them "if officers have reason to believe an individual is infected with TB."

Capt. Horace Frank, commanding officer of Central Division, would not comment specifically on the email but said the issue had been brought up in roll calls.

"Keep in mind that we’ve always stressed to our officers the importance of proper hygiene and conducting business in a safe and healthy manner," Frank said. "This is just a reminder for us to continue exercising the same precautions which we’ve exercised in the past. The key is that we continue to go about doing the job we have sworn to do, which is to protect and serve the public."

The Bobster

Senior News Editor since 2004

TB Case Leads to Testing on NJ Community College Campus

Health officials will be on hand after a pulmonary tuberculosis case was found on a New Jersey college campus.

They'll conduct TB tests at Raritan Valley Community College on Tuesday.

The person who contracted the potentially fatal disease has not been on campus since late March.

School spokeswoman Donna Stolzer tells officials have notified 36 people who may have come in contact with the person to get tested.

Stolzer is withholding the person's name and condition because of privacy concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says tuberculosis usually attack the lungs and can be fatal if not properly treated.


Senior Editor
TB cases increase in U.S. for first time in 23 years

The number of tuberculosis cases in the United States rose last year for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia each had more cases in 2015 than 2014, raising questions -- but no definitive answers -- about a possible resurgence of one of the world's deadliest diseases.

The overall increase was relatively small: 157 more cases, bringing the 2015 total to 9,563. Two-thirds of the total were among people born abroad, with Asians accounting for the most cases (3,007) and the highest rate (28.2 cases per 100,000 persons). By comparison, there were only .5 cases per 100,000 whites last year.

"After two decades of declining incidence, progress toward TB elimination in the United States appears to have stalled," the CDC report said. The causes are unclear, it said, and the data need further evaluation if the reasons behind the trend are to be identified.

One contributing factor is likely to be reduced or stagnant funding for prevention efforts nationwide. The disease can be difficult to manage and treat, even more so if substance abuse, incarceration or homelessness are involved. Advocates say that people with TB often have other diseases, such as diabetes, that also complicate treatment.

The authors noted that reports of TB cases among native-born children are further corroboration of the disease's continued spread in the United States; diagnosis in a young child represents "a sentinel event" signaling recent infection.

Tuberculosis is a serious airborne bacterial disease that primarily attacks the lungs. The active form is contagious, while people latently infected don't show symptoms and are not contagious. About 11 million Americas are believed to be in that latter category, according to the CDC's last estimate in 2000.
Vast majority of U.S. tuberculosis cases come from abroad

In fact, the tuberculosis rate among Asians (17.9 per 100,000) is 29 times higher than it is among whites (0.6 per 100,000), the new report shows. More than half the new cases were clustered in four states — California, Texas, New York and Florida ....

The Bobster

Senior News Editor since 2004

Officials Say Hundreds May Have Been Exposed to Tuberculosis
Published at 2:25 PM EDT on May 25, 2018

State public health officials say hundreds of people may have been exposed to tuberculosis last year at a nursing home in northern Delaware.

Officials announced Friday that more than 600 individuals may have been exposed to active tuberculosis at the ManorCare Health Services facility in Wilmington during a nine-month period starting in January 2017.

It was not immediately clear why the announcement was being made more than a year after some people may have been exposed.

Officials are sending letters to former residents and staff who may have been exposed to the infected individual and following up with phone calls regarding free testing and treatment.

Tuberculosis is an air-borne bacterium that can cause coughing, fatigue, weakness, fever and other symptoms.

If not treated, tuberculosis disease can be fatal.

The Bobster

Senior News Editor since 2004

Dozens Possibly Exposed to Tuberculosis in Southern Delaware Elementary School
Around 50 individuals have been identified to test for the infection.
Published at 10:29 PM EDT on Sep 25, 2018

Public health officials say dozens of people have been have been exposed to active tuberculosis at an elementary school in southern Delaware.

Officials said Tuesday that roughly 50 people at Georgetown Elementary School in Sussex County have been identified for testing.

Officials are refusing to provide details on the source of the infection or the individuals who need testing, citing medical privacy.

The school had an enrollment last year of about 780 children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

Officials says information on testing and a fact sheet were being sent home Tuesday with students who have been identified for testing. For other families, a general information letter and fact sheet are being sent home with students.