Thursday, July 12, 2012

Concerns Raised About Tuberculosis Outbreak in Mentally Ill Patients

An outbreak of tuberculosis in Jacksonville, Fla., has killed 13 patients and infected an additional 99, making it the biggest outbreak in 20 years. Budget cuts and the ill-timed closing of AG Holley State Hospital, a facility specializing in tuberculosis care, have hindered control of the outbreak. Recently, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a study detailing the case of a mentally ill patient who moved from an assisted-living facility to multiple treatment centers because of his schizophrenia before being diagnosed with tuberculosis eight months later in 2008.

"Because persons with mental illness often exhibit low health-care-seeking behavior, which may derive from an inability to recognize their own health problems or a general distrust of the health care system,” said the authors, “they may be especially prone to delays in diagnosis....” Experts hypothesize that about 3,000 people have been in contact with a contagious person within the past two years.

“To our knowledge, this is the first report to demonstrate the vulnerability of persons with mental illness to TB outbreaks,” said the authors. Read more about the case study in the American Journal of Psychiatry here.

(Image: eAlisa/


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