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News Link • Health and Physical Fitness

Florida closes only tuberculosis hospital amid worst outbreak in 20 years

• Richard Luscombe, The Guardian

Health officials in Florida hastened their closure of the nation’s only dedicated tuberculosis hospital on cost-cutting grounds as one of the worst outbreaks of the deadly disease in 20 years was taking a grip on the state, it has been revealed.

At least 3,000 people in Jacksonville may have been exposed to the highly contagious respiratory illness that claimed 13 lives in the city and left another 100 sick in the last two years, a report from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded.

But news of the severity of the outbreak never reached Florida’s politicians, who voted in March to bring forward the closure of the 100-bed AG Holley state hospital in Lantana by six months to July 2.

As a result, patients once deemed too sick for contact with the public were released into the community and others newly diagnosed with the disease, mostly from the homeless population, are being put up in local motels in an effort to keep them on their medications.

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