Long Beach Tuberculosis Outbreak Confined To Specific Population, Risk To General Public Low

Officials in Long Beach, California have stressed that the current tuberculosis outbreak is confined to a specific population and the risk of contracting the illness for the general public remains low. The outbreak, linked to a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel, has resulted in 14 confirmed cases of TB disease, nine hospitalizations and one death as of April 29.

City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis declared a local public health emergency on Thursday to enhance the city’s preparedness and ability to respond to the outbreak effectively. The official press release noted, “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.”

Health Department workers are currently screening approximately 170 people who may have been exposed to the illness for tuberculosis. Authorities anticipate the number of cases and contacts will increase as the investigation progresses.

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.