The new TB outbreak in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles is frequented by a large concentration of homeless people, according to the February 22, 2013 news report, "LA health officials seek to contain TB outbreak." The question is how do you keep it from spreading, since many homeless people and those living near Skid Row ride the public transit, where their coughs and sneezes in a closed space can transmit the bacteria to anyone riding the bus at locations far from Skid Row.
Homeless people with active TB can sit next to children returning home from school, seniors, persons with disabilities, moms with toddlers in strollers, those who don't drive, and anyone else coming into contact with wherever a homeless person carrying the disease roams, uses public transportation, or visits free or low-cost public spaces from libraries to senior centers and meeting rooms at public parks.
Free lectures at public library conference rooms sometimes attract the homeless when there's free music or a talk or club meeting. And formerly middle-class people now homeless and sleeping in their cars or vans sometimes hang out in the same places as some of the homeless, such as the soup kitchens, churches that offer free meals, or the low-cost senior center lunch -- along with seniors who are not homeless who come to senior centers for social contact, lectures, music, lifelong learning or low-cost lunch.
Homeless people down on their luck may have compromised immune systems. If they get sick, they can spread the microbes to anyone coming into contact with them from social workers and nuns to soup kitchen workers and people who sit next to them in a bus, shelter, or in a public library. See, "Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the United States."
Federal scientists will be dispatched in the next two weeks to work with Los Angeles officials
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is dispatching scientists to Los Angeles to mount a new attack on an outbreak of tuberculosis on skid row. Health workers have identified about 4,650 people who were probably exposed and are trying to track them, according to news reports.
Homeless shelters in Skid Row are increasing efforts to urge people to get tested after state and local public health officials alerted them to the outbreak earlier this month. But people who are not homeless often come in contact with the homeless in public places such as libraries, where often the homeless spend their days or in public transportation and in any place where there is close contact indoors, such as a house of worship, park classroom, restroom, or community center.
Some of the homeless pick up TB germs in prison or jail and then spread it to the homeless on the street, including those who are able to spend afternoons in movie theaters near where they hang out or can reach with public transportation. Others may spread TB microbes at homeless shelters. Check out today's news report, "Skid Row TB epidemic is 'alarming,' but the community is well-versed in disease."
Downtown Los Angeles and its hotels attract tourists from Europe and the U.S.A.
Los Angeles County health officials have asked federal officials for help to contain a worsening tuberculosis outbreak among the homeless in its downtown area. County health officials here have identified 78 cases of a particular strain of the TB bacteria. But TB germs aren't limited to the poor and the homeless in neighborhoods such as Skid Row. Recently live TB bacteria was collected just by swiping the eating tray in a plane, where people who are not limited to the homeless travel globally and nationally. See, Protect Yourself from TB, Bacteria & Viruses on Airplanes.
TB bacteria is normally carried in "droplets" ranging from 1 - 5 microns, and M. tuberculosis itself ranges from 0.4 – 1.4 microns in size, so I would recommend a mask with a HEPA filter, which filters particles down to 0.3 microns. The recirculated air in airplane cabins is notorious for carrying germs as well as chemical contaminants. The Plane Clean Air Filter (pictured above) attaches to your personal above-head air nozzle and removes 99.5% of all bacteria, viruses, and allergens from your air stream. Many people wear masks when traveling on airplanes.
Homeless use public libraries during the day for access to restrooms and the Internet
It's easy for TB bacteria to spread from the Skid Row homeless who frequently spend all day in public libraries to use the bathroom where they wash up or to use the computer. School kids coming into a library branch known for attracting homeless people can be exposed to TB microbes just by sitting near the homeless at a public library. See the articles, "Aurora library taking precautions against TB spreading - Daily Herald," and "Tomgram: Chip Ward."
In major cities, the public library has become an asylum for the homeless. And homeless people with TB ride busses and trains or "light rails." Check out the article, ""Endemic tuberculosis, the homeless, and public transportation." Once TB spreads to school children, it can become an epidemic. See, "California School Becomes Notorious For Epidemic of TB ." Also see, "CDC to investigate LA tuberculosis outbreak."
Also see, UV-based Air Purification, A New Way To Fight The Flu. You can use a device that can help purify the air using ultraviolet light. According to Sacramento Bee news reports, a company, UV Flu Technologies, Inc. (OTCQB: UVFT) announced that there is good news for those living in the 47 states that are reporting widespread flu activity. UVFLU has developed the only pure UV based, FDA-cleared, class 2 medical device for fighting airborne infection and is now offering it to consumers.
The Company has spent millions of dollars developing this unit and in the past has sold the unit mostly to hospitals and other medical facilities. But would it work for other microbes such as TB bacteria as it does on the flu virus? Will what affects virus also wipe out bacteria? You can ask the company how it works with TB germs in public places, such the medical device reports it can kill more than one percent of airborne bacteria. Check out the website of the firm and see what it may be able to do.
Ultra violet light medical device gets rid of numerous types of bacteria and viruses
The Company has just launched a Groupon with special pricing during the current flu outbreak, which can be taken advantage of by visiting the Groupon Air Purification System website. According to news reports, Groupon was the perfect Company to help with the consumer launch given their huge marketing and logistics capability.
The Viratech UV-400 is an FDA Cleared Class II Medical Device for killing over 99% of airborne bacteria, along with a host of other contaminants, including odors, smoke, and toxic chemicals, with every pass, in rooms up to 800 sq. feet. The device is unique in that it uses germicidal ultra violet light to actually kill organic contaminants, versus typical air purifiers which only "trap" contaminants.
You may also take a look at the article, "How Not to Get Sick From a Flight - NYTimes.com." In 2007, Charles P. Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, swabbed airplane bathrooms and tray tables on eight flights to see what bugs might be lurking onboard.
Four out of six tray tables tested positive for the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and norovirus, the highly contagious group of viruses that can cause a miserable one- or two-day bout of vomiting, diarrhea and cramping, was found on one tray. Most of the bathrooms he swabbed had E. coli bacteria.
Thirty percent of sinks, flush handles and faucet handles had E. coli, as did 20 percent of toilet seats, according to his research. In another swabbing of a tray where you put your food plate on in an airplane, another passenger found live TB bacteria, according to other news reports a few years ago.
Resources on the Los Angeles TB outbreak