Tags: tuberculosis | atlanta | 3 dead | homeless | shelters

Tuberculosis Atlanta: 3 Dead in Outbreak in Homeless Shelters

By    |   Monday, 11 Aug 2014 12:42 PM

A tuberculosis outbreak in Atlanta homeless shelters has left three dead and the Fulton County Department of Health urging health care volunteers working in those facilities to get screened.

Nancy Nydam, a state public health department spokeswoman, told Georgia Health News that the city experienced its third death of a homeless person in connection to tuberculosis at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a bacterium that attacks the lungs, but can also damage other parts of the body like the kidney, spine, and brain, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. It can be fatal to individuals who are not treated.

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that tuberculosis is an air-borne virus and can catch from a person coughing, sneezing or speaking.

Health officials told Georgia Health News there have been 28 tuberculosis cases in the latest reporting month reported in Fulton County, including two homeless shelter volunteers. Georgia Health News noted the number is up from 16 cases reported in May by county health officials.

County health officials told the Journal-Constitution that so far in 2014, the area has had 47 confirmed cases and four others suspected, above the 49 cases diagnosed in all of 2013 and closing in on the 54 cases of tuberculosis diagnosed the calendar year of 2012.

Dr. Patrick O'Neal, Georgia's director of health protection for public health, said in June that the homeless population is "extremely vulnerable" to diseases like tuberculosis because of "very poor sanitation and infection control measures."

While Fulton County medical director Dr. Matthew McKenna told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the outbreak is not a threat to the public at large, he declined to identify which homeless shelters are connected with the outbreaks and deaths.

"We are not releasing or confirming the names of the shelters associated with this increase in TB cases to fulfill our responsibility to protect the confidentiality of the facilities and their clients," McKenna told the Journal-Constitution in an email.

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A tuberculosis outbreak in Atlanta homeless shelters has left three dead and the Fulton County Department of Health urging health care volunteers working in those facilities to get screened.
tuberculosis, atlanta, 3 dead, homeless, shelters
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2014-42-11
Monday, 11 Aug 2014 12:42 PM
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