Tuberculosis is spreading among the homeless in California, and it is causing significant concern for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The TB outbreak in L.A. is said to be the largest breakout in a decade, with a reported 4,650 possibly exposed. The Los Angeles Times shared the details on Feb. 22.
The TB outbreak in L.A. involves a unique strain that doesn't seem to be spreading outside the area. Those affected are primarily homeless people, due to their lifestyle that leaves them with poor access to medical care, poor nutrition and regular contact with others who are infected. The prevalence of mental health issues and substance abuse issues can cause additional roadblocks to getting treatment to those who need it.
The strain of tuberculosis found in Los Angeles can be easily treated with medications, and the course of treatment takes about six to nine months. However, given the population involved it is not easy to get the information and medications to the people in need. There are indications that the overall number of cases in the county is declining, however the homeless population is still seeing something of a TB outbreak in L.A.
The county health department is seeking assistance from the CDC and those who work in the homeless shelters. The county hopes to find and test those homeless people who show possible symptoms of tuberculosis so they can get treatment sooner rather than later. Common symptoms include fatigue, fever, coughing up blood, weight loss, night sweats and a cough that lasts longer than three weeks. Hopefully with some solid intervention the concern about a TB outbreak in L.A. can be put to rest.