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Health Officials: TB Strain Contained Despite Cases Popping up in 18 Counties

Across the state of Florida, at least 104 cases of Tuberculosis have been documented.

These cases are believed to have started among the homeless population in Duval County.

North Florida has reported the most cases, while Miami-Dade, Pinellas and St. Lucie counties have confirmed two cases each, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The Florida Department of Health issued a statement saying relocation of a sick individual does not equate to a spread of the disease.

“There is no other epidemiological evidence indicating transmission outside of the Duval cluster,” the agency wrote.

In February, the Duval County Health Department officials felt so overwhelmed by the sudden spike in tuberculosis they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate.

Health officials believed the problem affected only the homeless, so they intentionally did not to not tell the public, according to the Palm Beach Post.

“What you don’t want is for anyone to have another reason why people should turn their backs on the homeless,” said Charles Griggs, the public information officer for the Duval County Health Department.

The Florida Department of Health denies trying to keep the outbreak secret saying as soon as they noticed a spike in TB, they contacted the Center for Disease Control as well as stakeholders in the community.

The April report by Dr. Robert Luo of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed the enormity of the problem.  

It was withheld from the public until nine days after Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill that shrank the Department of Health.

The bill also closed A.G. Holley State Hospital in Palm Beach County, a hospital where tough TB cases had been handled for more than 60 years.

The state also has asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a $250,000 supplemental grant to help it find and treat people exposed to TB.