Long Beach declares public health emergency after deadly tuberculosis outbreak

Aerial view of Long Beach, California. (Getty Images)

Municipal authorities declared a state of public health emergency on Thursday after a tuberculosis outbreak left one person dead and nine others hospitalized.

Health officials said the outbreak stemmed from a group of people who were staying together in a Long Beach hotel room.

As of April 29, 14 cases of tuberculosis (TB) were associated with this outbreak: nine of them required hospitalization and one case was fatal.

Investigators said about 170 people likely were exposed to the disease. Health officials are in contact with any guests or people who were at the hotel while the infected people were there.

Tuberculosis is a serious illness that primarily affects the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bacteria is spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

“TB spreads easily where people gather in crowds or where people live in crowded conditions,” Long Beach health officials said. “People with HIV/AIDS and others with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of contracting TB than people with typical immune systems. »

“The symptoms of tuberculosis depend on where the tuberculosis bacteria grows in the body,” explains the CDC. “TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB). Pulmonary tuberculosis can cause symptoms such as:

  • A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or more
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm coming from deep in the lungs)

Other symptoms of tuberculosis include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weightloss
  • No appetite
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sweating at night

Most cases of tuberculosis can be treated with antibiotics. However, those who take medication may need to do so for around six to nine months.

The CDC also notes that not everyone infected with TB bacteria will get sick. As a result, two conditions related to tuberculosis exist: latent tuberculosis infection and tuberculosis disease.

“People who have been infected but are not yet sick have what is called latent TB infection (LTBI),” health officials explained. “People with TB infection can take medication to prevent getting active TB later. »

The city’s emergency declaration “will streamline the department’s ability to quickly obtain resources and take additional measures to contain the outbreak,” Long Beach officials explained. “The affected population needs awareness and engagement, which requires significant staff time to conduct multiple interactions. The department has exhausted its resources to manage this response without an emergency declaration.

The declaration allows the city to implement preventive measures, including:

  • Mobilize the City’s resources
  • Accelerate emergency planning
  • Staff rationalization
  • Coordination with other agencies
  • Accelerate the City’s ability to purchase supplies needed to identify and treat tuberculosis
  • Allow for possible future reimbursement by the state and federal government
  • Raising awareness about tuberculosis throughout Long Beach

“The risk of tuberculosis for people who live, work, study or visit Long Beach remains very low,” city officials noted. “The Department of Health will continue to screen individuals associated with this outbreak and expects the number of cases and contacts to increase.”

The name of the hotel was not released “to protect patient privacy and comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations,” officials said.

More information about tuberculosis can be found on the California Department of Public Health website or the CDC website.

News Source :
Gn Health

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