Long Beach Declares Public Health Emergency Amid Tuberculosis Outbreak

City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis declared a local public health emergency on Thursday in response to a tuberculosis outbreak in Long Beach, California. The declaration aims to enhance the city’s preparedness and ability to respond to the outbreak effectively.

Officials emphasized that the outbreak is currently isolated to a specific population and the risk of contracting the illness for the general public remains 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 stated.

The outbreak has been linked 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 associated with this outbreak resulting in nine hospitalizations and one death.

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

Dr. Suman Radhakrishna, Director of Infectious Disease at Dignity Health, expressed surprise at the outbreak, stating, “We’ve had a lot of people coming from the developing part of the world 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.”

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.