WFTV (Orlando, FL) (10.31.12)
Aids Weekly Plus
Orlando has as many as 4,500 people homeless on a given night, many of whom are families and children. Local officials want to test all Orlando homeless persons for TB, because of Orlando’s close proximity to Jacksonville, Fla., just 140 miles away. Jacksonville has experienced the largest TB outbreak in 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jacksonville health officials say that the outbreak there has been linked to 13 deaths and 99 persons with the disease, and the outbreak is believed to have begun in the homeless community but has now spread beyond that population.
Health officials in Orlando do not want to take any chances and will test those at risk first. Bakari Burns, CEO of the Health Care Center for the Homeless in Orlando, says that the testing will focus on identification, containment, and elimination. Health officials will deploy teams of workers to find the homeless wherever they are—in camps and in woods around Orlando—and test them. The testing could cost as much as $86,000; the city of Orlando, Orange County, and Florida Hospital all plan to pay for the testing.