Tuberculosis Outbreak Prompts Public Health Emergency Declaration In Long Beach

Long Beach officials have declared a public health emergency following a tuberculosis outbreak that has claimed one life and hospitalized nine others. City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis made the declaration on Thursday to bolster the city’s preparedness and response capabilities.

The outbreak has been traced to a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel in Long Beach where several individuals have recently been diagnosed with TB disease. As of April 29, 14 cases of TB disease have been linked to this outbreak.

Health Department workers are currently screening about 170 people who may have been exposed to the illness for tuberculosis. The number of cases and contacts is expected to rise as the investigation continues.

Officials stressed that the outbreak is currently confined to a specific population and the risk of contracting the illness for 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 official press release noted.

Dr. Suman Radhakrishna, Director of Infectious Disease at Dignity Health, expressed surprise at the outbreak, attributing it 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.