• Florida Shuts Down Lone TB Hospital Amid TB Outbreak

    Exciting news! The stay in God's waiting room got a little bit shorter, according to officials from the Centers for Disease Control.

    This time, the culprit is not a zombie cannibal who has taken the South Beach diet a step too far and begun eating the protein-laden faces of homeless people. Instead, the problem is tuberculosis, because why the hell not? We already have debtors' prisons and calls for the re-establishment of child labor, so an outbreak of consumption among our country's most vulnerable populations is a nice touch for the Dickensian theme park our politicians are hellbent on creating.

    According to the Palm Beach Post, the CDC issued a report alerting Florida health officials to the worst tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years, which has been linked to 13 deaths and 99 illnesses. The report came just days after Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation to downsize the state's Department of Health and shut down A.G. Holley State Hospital, the only T.B. hospital in Florida.

    It's all part of Scott's plan to make government small enough so that it could be drowned in a bathtub the consumptive mucous of Floridians exposed to an out-of-control drug resistant strain of T.B. Which explains why the response to the CDC report involved a speed up in the closure of the hospital…

    As health officials in Tallahassee turned their focus to restructuring, Dr. Robert Luo's 25-page report describing Jacksonville's outbreak — and the measures needed to contain it — went unseen by key decision makers around the state. At the health agency, an order went out that the TB hospital must be closed six months ahead of schedule.

    Had they seen the letter, decision makers would have learned that 3,000 people in the past two years may have had close contact with contagious people at Jacksonville’s homeless shelters, an outpatient mental health clinic and area jails. Yet only 253 people had been found and evaluated for TB infection, meaning Florida’s outbreak was, and is, far from contained.

    At least the rest of the country will be well prepared for similar contingencies…

    The recession has battered public health; across the country, local and state health departments have shed 52,200 jobs since 2009. Despite resources from the stimulus and the Affordable Care Act aiming to bolster the public health workforce, it has about 20 percent fewer workers than it did four years ago. Forty-one percent of local health departments expect to make even more cuts this year, according to the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

    Oh, good. We wouldn't want to anger the T.B. with any kind of government spending. I hear microbes hate that.

    Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Florida, Health, Health Care, Rick Scott


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