Tuberculosis Outbreak Claims One Life, Hospitalizes Nine In Long Beach

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

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 emphasized that the outbreak is currently isolated to a specific population facing significant barriers to care including homelessness, housing insecurity, mental illness, substance use and serious medical comorbidities. The city has not released the name of the hotel to protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations.

“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,” explained Dr. Suman Radhakrishna, Director of Infectious Disease at Dignity Health.

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.