Outbreak: Tuberculosis Spread In Long Beach Linked To Single Room Occupancy Hotel

The tuberculosis outbreak in Long Beach, California has been traced to a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel where 14 cases of TB disease have been confirmed as of April 29. The outbreak has claimed one life and resulted in nine hospitalizations prompting City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis to declare a local public health emergency on Thursday.

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

“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 stated. The city has not released the name of the hotel to protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations.

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 primarily affects the lungs, spreads easily in crowded gatherings or living conditions. People with weakened immune systems face a higher risk of contracting the illness.