Long Beach Health Officials Screening 170 People Potentially Exposed To Tuberculosis In Outbreak

Health Department workers in Long Beach, California are currently screening approximately 170 people who may have been exposed to tuberculosis following an outbreak linked to a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel. As of April 29, 14 cases of TB disease have been confirmed in connection with the outbreak resulting in nine hospitalizations and one death.

City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis declared a local public health emergency on Thursday to bolster the city’s preparedness and response capabilities. Officials anticipate the number of cases and contacts will rise as the investigation progresses.

The outbreak has been confined to a specific population facing significant barriers to care such as homelessness, housing insecurity, mental illness, substance use and serious medical comorbidities according to the official press release. The city has withheld the name of the hotel to protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations.

Dr. Suman Radhakrishna, Director of Infectious Disease at Dignity Health, attributed the outbreak to individuals coming from developing countries where tuberculosis is endemic. “And if they haven’t had a chance to get adequate healthcare and they have active TB, when they cough, they will aerosolize the bacteria, and all the susceptible individuals around them start to come down with TB,” she explained.

Tuberculosis, a serious illness that mainly targets the lungs, spreads easily in crowded conditions and poses a higher risk to people with weakened immune systems.