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LONG BEACH : City Extends Emergency TB Medical Alert

The city’s public health department, fearing that tuberculosis cases will continue to increase, has extended an emergency medical alert that has been in effect since 1989.

The year’s extension makes the city eligible for special state and federal funds, but health officials said they also hope the declaration will serve as a reminder to people to pay close attention to possible TB symptoms. These include weight loss, night sweats, fever, fatigue and a stubborn cough.

New cases in Long Beach increased more than 30% in 1993 to 148, an eight-year peak, while the number of cases throughout Los Angeles County has been dropping by about 12%, said Ron Arias, manager of the city’s public health bureau. Figures for 1994 are not yet available, but Arias said the number of cases continues to rise.

“The number of new cases in Long Beach is still far above the national average for a city its size,” he said. “And there is no question that we are seeing a higher-than-average number of cases than in previous years,” he said.

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Officials say the increase stems from several factors: increasing homelessness, drug use, poverty and immigration from foreign disease centers.

With help from state and federal government grants, the city is pouring more than $1 million a year into the prevention and cure of TB. Last week, the City Council approved $91,000 to help fund a program at Cal State Long Beach that detects TB among drug users.


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