The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning resident that Florida is now experiencing the worst TB outbreak it has seen in more than 20 years.
Originating in 2008 the current outbreak has been linked to a schizophrenic patient who contracted the disease but was never treated. That patient eventually spread the TB strain to 17 other people over an eight month period, two of whom died.
That same rare strain of TB surfaced again in 2011 which forced the Duval County Health Department to call in the CDC for assistance.
Unfortunately during the 2008 and 2009 outbreaks the general public was not notified, an admitted mistake from the town’s mayor. Speaking of the 2009 outbreak he tells the Palm Beach Post :
“We thought after 2008 that we had it contained. It was not contained.”
The CDC was called in this April after the TB strain was linked to 13 deaths and 99 cases. The CDC warns that upwards of 3,000 people may have been exposed to the rare TB strain. When the general public was finally warned last month the TB strain had already spread across the state.
Compounding the state’s ability to fight tuberculosis is the closing of a hospital that offered specialized care and treatment for tuberculosis.
Treating the spread of Tuberculosis has been especially difficult because it is often spread to homeless communities and college dormitories.
Experts claim that 253 people have been exposed to TB and that the strain has now moved into the general population.
“You can get TB by breathing in air droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person.”
If you experience excess coughing, the coughing up of blood, excessive sweating (especially at night), fatigue, fever, unintentional weight loss or other symptoms associated with TB and you live in Florida it is recommended that you schedule an appointment to have a TB test performed.