Tuberculosis outbreak investigated at homeless shelters

ATLANTA – Fulton County officials said they are investigating a possible outbreak of active tuberculosis cases among former clients of three homeless shelters in Atlanta – the Central Night Shelter, the Atlanta Union Mission and the Taskforce for the Homeless.

In a release Tuesday, Dr. Patrice Harris, Fulton County's Director of Health and Wellness, said her office has started screening residents at one of the shelters, and they are working with the Georgia Department of Public Health to screen residents at the other two shelters over the next three weeks.

So far, 16 cases have been diagnosed since the beginning of 2014 that have connections with the shelters. Those individuals are being treated. Harris emphasizes that there is no threat to the public at large.

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"We want to stress that there is no threat to the public at large since infection with TB requires prolonged (at least 8 hours) sharing of air in an enclosed space. All persons with active disease have been relocated from the shelters while they undergo treatment under the supervision of Health and Wellness," Harris says in the release. "At this juncture, there is no cause for the general public to be alarmed. The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness will release a full report on the outbreak when the series of screenings and the investigation are completed."

Staff and residents are being provided with information and instruction on how to recognize tuberculosis symptoms. Everyone who has been potentially exposed are being advised to take preventative measures and to seek medical treatment if necessary.


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