TB on Skid Row

Unique strain of TB spreads among Los Angeles’ homeless

An outbreak of tuberculosis in the “Skid Row” neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles has prompted city health officials to call in state and federal agencies.

L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding said the specific strain of TB, which has infected 78 victims since 2007, is “not a threat to the public at large,” according to BlogDowntown.com. The strain appears isolated to Skid Row—of the victims, 60 have been homeless, 20 percent were HIV-positive and 11 have died. Nationally, TB cases hit an all-time low in 2011, when 10,528 cases were reported.

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including eight members of the Division of TB Elimination Outbreak Investigation Team, will spend about three weeks addressing the issue beginning in early March.