Local Health Officials Track L.A. Tuberculosis Outbreak
The search is on in Los Angeles for thousands of homeless who may have been exposed to a resilient form of tuberculosis. And in Fresno, health care officials are taking note.
"Of course if they don't know they have it, that's what your worst problem is, they are not aware they have it and they are spreading it," said Sister Mary Clennon of the Fresno Poverello House.
Clennon is well aware of the challenges of treating the homeless. As clinic director at the Poverello House she has seen first hand the reluctance of many to reach out for treatment.
"That's their option, we have no control over that," said Clennon.
A hesitancy to seek care combined with poor sanitation creates ideal conditions for TB to spread.
"Sometimes the high risk of the homeless is they do tend to congregate close to each other over long periods of time in a small environment," said David Luchini with the Fresno County Health Department.
Luchini says they work closely with Poverello House and other area shelters to insure any one displaying symptoms is treated. Something he says is ultimately the key to preventing an outbreak here in Fresno.