Persistent Strain of Tuberculosis Claims Victims on L.A.’s Skid Row

Persistent strain of TB is claiming victims on L.A.’s skid row

The homeless, like those at the Midnight Mission on L.A.’s skid row, are particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis because they are in close contact with one another and have poor hygiene, officials say. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

LOS ANGELES-

Public health officials have launched a new, coordinated attack to contain a persistent outbreak of tuberculosis on downtown Los Angeles’ skid row, including a search for more than 4,500 people who may have been exposed to the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dispatched scientists to Los Angeles to help local health officials determine why the disease is spreading and how to stop it.

Officials say 11 have died since 2007. Sixty of the 78 cases were among homeless people who live on and around skid row.

Scientists have recently linked the outbreak to a tuberculosis strain that is unique to Los Angeles, with a few isolated cases outside the area.

“This is the largest outbreak in a decade,” said Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “We are really putting all of our resources into this.”

Health workers have identified about 4,650 people who were probably exposed and are trying to track them down for testing and treatment.

Read more on LATimes.com

Report filed by Anna Gorman and Andrew Blankstein | Los Angeles Times

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