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Healthy State tells the stories you need to know to stay well, with a special focus on Florida.We'll bring you the latest fitness trends, new research on preventing and treating disease, and information about how health policy impacts your pocketbook.We report on health using all the tools at our disposal -- video, audio, photos and text -- to bring these stories to life.Healthy State is a project of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and is heard on public radio stations throughout Florida. It also is available online at wusfnews.org.

Containing the Florida Tuberculosis Outbreak

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Health officials in Florida are struggling to contain a tuberculousis outbreak that's been described as one of the worst in 20 years.

It's been blamed for for 13 deaths and 99 illnesses. That includes six children, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Public health officials are coming under fire for not telling the public about the outbreak earlier.

It started in Duval County. 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 hospital, which closed July 2, was one of four tuberculosis hospitals left in the country and the only one in Florida.

Sarah Pusateri is a former multimedia health policy reporter for Health News Florida, a project of WUSF. The Buffalo New York native most recently worked as a health reporter for Healthystate.org, a two year grant-funded project at WUSF. There, she co-produced an Emmy Award winning documentary called Uniform Betrayal: Rape in the Military.
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