Public health officials confirmed the Tuberculosis outbreak in downtown Los Angeles is specific to Skid Row and that the Venice area has not been affected.
Concerns over the illness, especially among those engaged with homeless issues in the community. A spokesperson with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health says Venice residents should not be concerned since the outbreak is localized in a specific area in downtown LA.
According to the health department’s website, the airborne disease is transmitted through coughing or sneezing in close quarters. When left untreated, TB can be deadly. The skid row strain can be treated with all anti-TB medications. Treatment lasts six to nine months.
While this information should put the community at ease, some may want to know if there are preventive measures to take. Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s oncologist, Dr. Melanie Schaum, says the Food and Drug Administration has not approved a Tuberculosis vaccine in the United States.
“There is an injection called Bacille Calmette-Guerin, used in other countries with very high TB prevalence to attempt to decrease childhood TB,” said Schaum. “This is not used in the U.S. due to limited effectiveness in preventing adult TB and the fact that it can make a TB skin test uninterpretable.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs and may cause symptoms such as a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer, pain in the chest, or coughing up blood. Other symptoms include weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, or sweating at night.
Feds Try to Curb Outbreak of TB on Skid Row (LA Times)