A little reported story slowly gaining momentum is of the worst tuberculosis outbreak in Florida in 20 years. A TB outbreak is bad enough, but what’s making this worse is that this outbreak was covered up, and covered up because state health officials believed only the underclass was affected.
In other words, since it seemed to be limited to the poor and/or homeless, nobody cared.
The CDC officer had a serious warning for Florida health officials in April: A tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville was one of the worst his group had investigated in 20 years. Linked to 13 deaths and 99 illnesses, including six children, it would require concerted action to stop.
In his report, the CDC’s Luo makes it clear that other health officials throughout the state and nation have reason to be concerned: Of the fraction of the sick people’s contacts reached, one-third tested positive for TB exposure in areas like the homeless shelter.
Furthermore, only two-thirds of the active cases could be traced to people and places in Jacksonville where the homeless and mentally ill had congregated. That suggested the TB strain had spread beyond the city’s underclass and into the general population. The Palm Beach Post requested a database showing where every related case has appeared. That database has not been released.
It was early February when Duval County Health Department officials felt so overwhelmed by the sudden spike in tuberculosis that they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to become involved. Believing the outbreak affected only their underclass, the health officials made a conscious decision not to not tell the public, repeating a decision they had made in 2008, when the same strain had appeared in an assisted living home for people with schizophrenia. – Palm Beach Post
What’s making this worse, and even more difficult to track and stop, is Governor Rick Scott‘s pushing through his austerity budgets, which gutted the Florida Health Department and closed the A.G. Holley State Hospital, which had been responsible for treating the most difficult strains of TB.
So here you have it:
- Austerity budgets gutting essential social services.
- A lack of compassion for the poor and homeless.
- A coverup because only the ‘underclass’ was involved.
..and what does that add up to?
13 dead and 99 infected, including 6 children.
Needlessly putting the health of thousands of people at risk because money was more important.
- Report: Florida closed TB hospital as cases spiked (news4jax.com)
- Florida accused of concealing worst tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years (rawstory.com)