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Long Beach Tuberculosis Outbreak Triggers Emergency Response

Payam Javan: Authorities in California have declared a health emergency in Long Beach following an outbreak of tuberculosis, which has resulted in one death and more than a dozen infections.

The Long Beach city health officer issued the declaration on May 2 to bolster resources for tracking, screening, and treating those exposed to the outbreak linked to a hotel. Currently, there are 14 cases, with nine individuals having been hospitalized and approximately 170 people identified as likely exposed.

Despite the outbreak being isolated to a specific population with low risk to the general public, individuals with barriers to care, such as homelessness and medical comorbidities, are at heightened risk.

Tuberculosis, a bacterial infection primarily targeting the lungs, spreads through the air via coughing or sneezing. The United States witnessed its highest number of tuberculosis cases in a decade in 2023, with California reporting a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

A recent health advisory urged healthcare providers to consider tuberculosis in diagnosis, especially among patients with risk factors or prolonged symptoms. Notably, those at risk include immigrants from high-prevalence countries, individuals with compromised immune systems, and those in close contact with active tuberculosis cases. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical in managing the spread of tuberculosis.

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