Sunday, July 15, 2012 -
TB strain found in 18 counties outside Duval
Although state health officials maintain the outbreak is now mostly contained within the Jacksonville homeless, a state database obtained by The Palm Beach Post on Friday showed sick people with FL 046 have also popped up in 17 other Florida counties. About 23 percent of all FL 046 cases have occurred outside Duval County, analysis suggests, and most of those have been identified in the past two years.
North Florida has logged the most cases, while Miami-Dade, Pinellas and St. Lucie counties have confirmed two cases each. ( http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/tb-strain-found-in-18-counties-outside-duval/nPtFn/ )
The outbreak dates to 2008, when a schizophrenic patient in Jacksonville contracted TB but went untreated for eight months, infecting at least 17 others.
So far, the TB strain has been linked to 13 deaths and 99 illnesses, including six infected children. ( http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional/state-says-tb-outbreak-was-handled-properly/nPqnT/ )
- The majority of cases among the homeless were of a specific genotype i.e. FL0046 which indicated those people were infected with the same strain of TB.
- Between the years 2004 and Feb, 2012, there were only 222 cases of FL0046 nationally. Through 2011, Florida had 85 of those cases with 67 of those reported in Duval (79% of Florida cases; 30% of national). Ten new cases have already been confirmed in 2012 along with 3 probable and 4 suspected pending genotyping.
- The majority of cases could be linked to several sites frequented by the homeless including 3 shelters, a soup kitchen, an outpatient mental health facility, and the local jail.
- In addition to homelessness, other risk factors included drug or alcohol use, mental illness, and incarceration. Seventy-nine percent had at least one of these risk factors.
- Among those who were infected with TB, 78% were male and 76% were Black. Ninety-six percent were born in the US.
FL0046 is not currently a drug resistant strain of TB. How and why it was able to get so far being treatable is something of an additional issue id wager.
CDC: Jacksonville has the largest TB outbreak in the U.S.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control is now at the center of an alleged state government cover-up. The CDC says Duval County has the largest tuberculosis outbreak in the country that they’ve investigated in the last 20 years.
At least 13 people have died and another 99 have contracted TB in the outbreak in Jacksonville, the state's largest city with a population of 825,000.
The Florida Department of Health said local, state and federal officials were working to contain the infections and that there was no need for a highly publicized alert even though up to 3,000 people may be at risk of contracting TB.
State health officials also defended their decision not to raise a general alarm because the population of infected homeless persons appeared isolated and contained.
Florida closes only tuberculosis hospital amid worst US outbreak in 20 years
At least 3,000 people in Jacksonville may have
been exposed to the highly contagious respiratory illness that claimed
13 lives in the city and left another 100 sick in the last two years, a
report from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) concluded. But news of the severity of the outbreak never
reached Florida's politicians, who voted in March to bring forward the
closure of the 100-bed AG Holley state hospital in Lantana by six months
to July 2.
As a result, patients once deemed too sick for contact with the public were released into the community and others newly diagnosed with the disease, mostly from the homeless population, are being put up in local motels in an effort to keep them on their medications.