170 Exposed to Tuberculosis in Long Beach, Calif., Outbreak

An outbreak of the lung disease has been traced to an unnamed hotel in the California city

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of Long Beach, Calif., sign.


Stock image of Long Beach, Calif., sign.

The city of Long Beach, Calif., has declared a public health emergency following a tuberculosis outbreak that’s been traced to a hotel in the area that may have exposed up to 170 people to the disease.

Fourteen cases of tuberculosis have been associated with a single-room occupancy hotel in the city, which officials declined to name, citing patient privacy and HIPPA regulations, the city’s Public Information Office said in statement Thursday.

Nine people have been hospitalized, and one person has died, the office noted.

“The outbreak is currently isolated to a distinct population and the risk to the general public is low,” their statement continued. “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.”

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of a chest x-ray


Stock image of a chest x-ray

The disease is caused by a Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that primarily affects the lungs, per the Mayo Clinic, which also noted that “tuberculosis spreads easily where people gather in crowds or where people live in crowded conditions. People with HIV/AIDS and other people with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of catching tuberculosis than people with typical immune systems.”

There are three stages of tuberculosis (TB) infections. Primary TB is where most people experience a low fever, tiredness or a cough. During a latent TB infection, there are no symptoms as the immune system cells “build a wall around lung tissue with TB germs. The germs can't do any more harm if the immune system keeps them under control,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

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During active TB disease, symptoms include coughing up blood, and the disease can progress outside of the lungs, often spreading to the kidneys, liver, heart muscles and more, per the Mayo Clinic.

According to Long Beach's Public Information Office, approximately 170 people have been exposed to TB in the city's outbreak.

“Health Department staff are in the process of screening contacts for TB via symptom review, blood or skin test and a chest x-ray," they continued in their statement. "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.”

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However, the statement noted “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," the office continued. "Declaring a public health emergency streamlines the Department’s ability to quickly secure resources and take additional action to contain the outbreak.“

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