JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Center for Disease Control says Duval County is dealing with one of the most extensive tuberculosis outbreaks in the past 20 years.
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Starting Monday, officials from the Duval County Health Department will begin aggressively testing the homeless population. There are around 3,000 people homeless in Duval County and over the next six weeks, the health department hopes to test at least 90% of them for TB.
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The strain of TB health officials are looking at is relatively new and called Florida 046. It first surfaced in 2008, but spiked last year in the homeless population.
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According to an investigation by the Palm Beach Post, the outbreak is linked to 13 deaths and nearly 100 illnesses.
The Florida Department of Health responded saying those facts were "distorted" because it "does not specify time span of deaths and illnesses, most deaths are from other causes i.e. HIV, Hepatitis C, with TB being present in addition".
Last year there were 71 cases of TB in Jacksonville.
TB is spread through the bacteria in the air. If someone infected with TB of the lungs coughs or sneezes, people nearby breathing in that bacteria could also become infected.
The priority of the testing beginning Monday is to identify the active carriers of TB.
First Coast News