Health officials in a California city have declared a ‘public health emergency’ due to a tuberculosis outbreak.

“Long Beach officials declared a public health emergency Thursday afternoon after one person died and nine others were hospitalized due to a tuberculosis outbreak in the city,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Long Beach Health Department Officer Dr. Anissa Davis declared a local public health emergency to strengthen the City’s preparedness and ability to respond to a localized tuberculosis (TB) outbreak,” the City of Long Beach stated.

“Today, May 2, 2024, City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis declared a local public health emergency to strengthen the City’s preparedness and ability to respond to a localized tuberculosis (TB) outbreak. This declaration will be considered for ratification by the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday, May 7,” a City of Long Beach press release read.

“The outbreak is currently isolated to a distinct population and the risk to the general public is low. The population at risk in this outbreak has significant barriers to care including homelessness and housing insecurity, mental illness, substance use and serious medical comorbidities,” the press release continued.

From the City of Long Beach:

Several individuals associated with a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel in Long Beach have recently been identified with TB disease. As of April 29, 14 cases of TB disease have been associated with this outbreak; nine people have been hospitalized at some point in their illness; and one person has died. To protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations, the name of the hotel will not be released. The facility is a private hotel not operated by or contracted with the City of Long Beach. People who were staying at the hotel at the time or could have otherwise been exposed have been or will be contacted by the Health Department.

The Health Department’s TB Control Program provides treatment to everyone with TB disease who is affected by this outbreak and also supports them as necessary with temporary housing, food and transportation. Treatment for TB disease requires months of multiple medications, and medicine is given under direct observation by TB Control staff.

Through the course of this investigation, staff have identified approximately 170 people who have likely been exposed to TB. Health Department staff are in the process of screening contacts for TB via symptom review, blood or skin test and a chest x-ray. The Health Department will continue to screen individuals associated with this outbreak and expects the number of cases and contacts to increase. Those who are found to have active TB disease or latent TB infection will be provided treatment. The level of attention needed to contain the outbreak is well beyond the scope of the Department’s day-to-day work. The population of concern requires outreach and engagement, necessitating significant staff time to perform multiple interactions.

Screening and treating such a large number of people requires many resources. Declaring a public health emergency streamlines the Department’s ability to quickly secure resources and take additional action to contain the outbreak.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Public Health officials were unable to confirm the date of the first recorded case.

The outbreak comes at time when tuberculosis infections have been rising statewide.

The number of cases in 2023 rose by 15% in California compared with the previous year, the state Department of Public Health said in March. That’s the highest year-over-year increase since 1989, when it was tied to people co-infected with HIV.

In total, there were 2,113 cases statewide last year, about the same amount reported in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

To protect patient privacy, officials declined to disclose the Long Beach business or location of the outbreak.

Davis said the facility is private and not operated by the city of Long Beach.

Long Beach health officials confirmed the hotel in question was not in quarantine and was still open. It’s unclear whether residents who were staying at the facility were moved out.

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