Long Beach & tuberculosis

14 cases, one death.

A tuberculosis outbreak at a Long Beach hotel has caused the health department to declare a public health emergency, though the City Council will need to ratify the decision…Long Beach has not determined the original source of the outbreak…

“The outbreak is currently isolated to a distinct population and the risk to the general public is low,” the city said. “The population at risk in this outbreak has significant barriers to care, including homelessness and housing insecurity, mental illness, substance use and serious medical comorbidities.”

Of the 14 tuberculosis patients identified since Monday, nine have been hospitalized and one has died, the city said.


Here are more details for those interested.

City of Long Beach, CA Press Release May 2, 2024

Official City of Long Beach Statement Regarding Public Health Emergency in Response to Local Tuberculosis Outbreak; Risk to Population at Large Remains Low

Today, May 2, 2024, City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis declared a local public health emergency to strengthen the City’s preparedness and ability to respond to a localized tuberculosis (TB) outbreak.

About the Outbreak
Several individuals associated with a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel in Long Beach have recently been identified with TB disease. As of April 29, 14 cases of TB disease have been associated with this outbreak; nine people have been hospitalized at some point in their illness; and one person has died. To protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations, the name of the hotel will not be released. The facility is a private hotel not operated by or contracted with the City of Long Beach. People who were staying at the hotel at the time or could have otherwise been exposed have been or will be contacted by the Health Department.

About Tuberculosis

The risk of TB for people who live, work, study or visit in Long Beach remains very low.\Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a serious illness caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Like COVID-19, TB spreads through the air, such as when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. However, TB is not as quickly transmitted as COVID-19, and usually requires prolonged exposure between the person with TB disease and family, friends or everyday close contacts. Crowded and poorly ventilated environments are risk factors for tuberculosis transmission. Not everyone exposed will become infected and not everyone infected with the bacteria becomes sick. Generally, persons at high risk for developing TB disease fall into two categories:

• Persons who have been recently infected with TB bacteria

• Persons with medical conditions that weaken the immune system

People experiencing homelessness, people who use illicit substances and people with HIV are also at an increased risk of becoming infected with TB germs compared to the general population.

From a Live Science article:

The outbreak follows an uptick in TB across the entire state of California. More than 2,100 active cases of the disease were reported last year, which is 15% more than were reported in 2022. This marks a return to typical levels of active TB seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when cases temporarily dipped.

Tuberculosis, which is caused by the microbe Mycobacterium tuberculosis, can lie latent in a person’s body, initially causing no symptoms, and then activate if the immune system is weakened by age or disease. About 5% to 10% of people who carry the bacteria ultimately develop active TB.
From the NIH national Library of Medicine, December 2018 Tuberculosis—the Face of Struggles, the Struggles We Face, and the Dreams That Lie Within:
Tuberculosis disease, or phthisis (ϕθίσις, the Greek word for consumption), was named by the father of allopathic medicine, Hippocrates (c. 460–370 BCE), because the disease appeared to consume the affected person through substantial weight loss and wasting. Hippocrates warned his students against treating persons in late stages of tuberculosis, because nearly all of their patients would die, which would likely tarnish their reputations as healers.

Today, >10 million persons become ill with tuberculosis, and 2 million die from the disease each year. India accounts for the largest number of persons with tuberculosis and tuberculosis-related deaths in the world.

My family’s personal experience with TB

In the early-1900s, tuberculosis was called “consumption” or “black lung disease;” at that time, a tuberculosis outbreak hit Honolulu, Hawaii.

In 1919, my maternal l grandmother departed Nagasaki, Japan on a steamship and arrived in Honolulu to finalize a marriage to my maternal grandfather, arranged by their respective families. After birthing four daughters, my grandmother got weaker and sicker due to “consumption” and sent to Le’ahi Home where she died in 1929; Le’ahi was originally charted in 1901 as the Honolulu Home for Incurables and changed to the “Lēʻahi Home” in 1906; In 1942 the word “Hospital” was substituted for the word “Home”. My grandmother either arrived in Honolulu with TB latent in her body or caught TB during the TB outbreak in Honolulu. My mother’s youngest sister died at age 5, two years after her mother’s death due to pneumonia or possibly TB. My mother’s second oldest sister stubbornly sneaked food into Le’ahi to feed her mother who repeatedly scolded her for doing that. TB manifested years later in this sister, who ended up in Le’ahi, lost one lung and survived TB, married the Le’ahi attendant who took care of her, had 3 children, had a full-time job retiring in her 60s and lived a good life.



Interesting family history, Ray. It’s always a surprise to hear of a re-emergence of diseases…no matter how contained…that were real scourges in the pre-antibiotic era. Syphilis is another, it seems. One of our neighbours had spent time in a “sanitorium” in her youth.

My maternal grandfather had black lung…which isn’t TB but “Miner’s Lung” or pneumoconiosis from a working lifetime of inhaling coal dust.