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Medicine Politics

Florida Accused of Concealing Worst Tuberculosis Outbreak In 20 Years 409

Posted by Soulskill
from the tb-or-not-tb dept.
NotSanguine writes "The state of Florida has been struggling for months with what the Centers for Disease Control describe as the worst tuberculosis outbreak in the United States in twenty years. Although a CDC report went out to state health officials in April encouraging them to take concerted action, the warning went largely unnoticed and nothing has been done. The public did not even learn of the outbreak until June, after a man with an active case of TB was spotted in a Jacksonville soup kitchen. The Palm Beach Post has managed to obtain records on the outbreak and the CDC report, though only after weeks of repeated requests. These documents should have been freely available under Florida's Sunshine Law."
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Florida Accused of Concealing Worst Tuberculosis Outbreak In 20 Years

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  • by tsm_sf (545316) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:29AM (#40610797) Journal
    But don't worry, this is all the evil Republican's fault..

    Ubiquitous healthcare would have prevented this, so... yes.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:37AM (#40610855) Homepage

    Dear Editors and NotSanguine,

    When you copy and paste an entire paragraph from a linked source without actually citing that source as the author of said material, you're committing plagiarism. NotSanguine did not write this blurb; Muriel Kane of Raw Story did.

    Respect authorship.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:42AM (#40610881) Journal

    Of course, the Republicans have a solution. They'll just get rid of the CDC, so there's no centralized data gathering, and that way, fifty TB cases could pop up a day, and until you started coughing up blood, you'd have nothing to worry about!

    Isn't this the Libertarian paradise the Ron Paul legions envisage?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:47AM (#40610923)

    So you can specify a minimum level of health care on one 8x11? Bullshit. You are a liar.

      Also, EXACTLY what aspect of the ObamaCare bill is a power grab? Yes, the government can specify standards of insurance, just like your government specifies a minimum coverage.

    Medicare would actually work just fine in the US if the GOP would stop blocking the efforts to get past the "doc fixes" every year and reform the system to reimburse not per test but for a typical course of treatment per disease. Works better than your shit system in Canada and could be even better.

    Fuck off, you pathetic little dog fuck. Just fuck right off.

  • by medv4380 (1604309) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:49AM (#40610937)
    Yep, we just need the good old CDC and Health Departments that actually ensured everyone got a Small Pox Vaccine. My Evil half just wants this to result in a highly contagious version that is Antibiotic Resistant and make it so everyone has to get the TB Vaccine. The irony of a disease coming into existence from this kind of nieve plot to kill innocent people. Really, the "Lets do nothing and let the Poor Die" plan doesn't work. Then again a lot of people will have to die for us just to relearn the lesson that Small Pox taught us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:52AM (#40610957)

    Exactly, if you quote an article you should put quotation marks around the text and link to the original source. Wait...

  • by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:59AM (#40610993)

    Currently just about every one of our southern states is racing toward third world status just as fast as they can and you think giving them more power is a good idea? You don't have states like Mississipi and South Carolina in Canada.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:59AM (#40610999)

    I hate relative terms when there is no indication as to what the term is relative to. For example, if the second worst outbreak in the last 20 years involved 80 people then this one could be the worst and involve 99 people.

    What I would rather see is how important is this outbreak. The fact that it is the worst in 20 years does not mean that it is something to be concerned with. The questions to ask are as follows;
    1. How much of the population is at risk?
    2. Would spreading the information cause more harm than good. Will the populous be more frightened that necessary.

    The 13 death tole can be misleading too. Are most of the deaths in people who live on the streets, avoid contact with health facilities and have compromised immune systems. I am not saying to ignore them but health warnings would not help as they would be ignored.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:08AM (#40611063)

    Suddenly, the coverup makes sense.
    Someone decided that they could save the budget by slashing a necessary public service.
    The need for said public service arose, which would be massively embarrassing.
    Solution: Ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:10AM (#40611079)

    Florida just closed down it's only state hospital specializing in tuberculosis cases on July 2nd. Bad timing.

    Timing had nothing to do with it. It was politics. That's the problem with cutting back on social programs: They stabilize the quality of life for the general population. Take them away, and they're now subject to the random, chaotic, and violent twists of unbridled capitalism. And combine poor economic conditions with an outbreak of plague... and if you don't have any social support programs, well... grab a mirror so you can properly bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

    It's the same thing with unemployment insurance and food stamps, and other forms of economic assistance; During times of economic prosperity, these services go largely unused, so they can stockpile funding for periods of economic downturn, and in so doing, moderate the highs and lows inherent in a capitalist system. What's even stupider about this: All the social programs, health care, welfare, unemployment insurance... all of it, would be amply funded without costing a single taxpayer dollar if during those aforementioned periods of economic prosperity, the unused funding for those programs was diverted into investments. Spain has a robust social security program; Every person in the country is guaranteed social security. You know how much they pay into the system for that? Nothing. Nodda.

    Short term thinking, people. It'll fuck you every time.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:25AM (#40611157)

    How about fuck you, anonymous. Too many people equate liberal with liberty when, in fact, the opposite is quite the case - they're a mutually exclusive arrangement.

    Only if you're using the FOX notions of what liberal and liberty mean.

    The more that people see this, the better off this country will be. Not that Repubs are much better, but they are. Libertarian is the way.

    Libertarians are just Republicans who aren't pretending to be on a Mission from God.

    Don't like my opinions or what I post, use your mod points or stfu.

    Or maybe reply? But no, your notion of "liberty" is "my way or the highway".

  • by Kagetsuki (1620613) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:25AM (#40611161)

    NO. Freedom of speech implies you can say whatever you want without having to put on a Guy Fawkes mask. It means you can speak freely as yourself. The right to remain anonymous is another issue.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:27AM (#40611171)

    Isn't this the Libertarian paradise the Ron Paul legions envisage?

    I don't know, I've never been to Somalia.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:41AM (#40611245)

    One of the reasons I abandoned the Republican party was because they could never face up to their own failures or take responsibilities for their mistakes

    I don't think those are failures and mistakes. The Republican political philosophy is that "the proper role of government is to help the rich get richer". They rarely fail or make mistakes on that particular topic. Poor people starving or dying because they can't afford medical treatment isn't a problem for them.

    They just can't come out and say what they really stand for, or they'd never win an election.

    And they certainly aren't going to admit that their party's actual name is Government Of the People(, By the Rich, For the Rich).

  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:54AM (#40611313) Homepage

    Freedom of speech was meant to protect you from the government taking any action based on knowing you were saying things the government may not like.

    It affords you protection from the government, but not protection from your fellow citizens thinking you're a moron.

  • by drkstr1 (2072368) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:09AM (#40611385)

    Good point, I should go vote for the party that says I don't own my own body and censorship is a good idea! Ron Paul 2012!

    Maybe I need to work on my reading comprehension, but are you saying Ron Paul believes you don't own your body and censorship is a good thing? If so, I beg to differ.

    Ron Paul is the only hope we have to cast off our corporate overlords. Unfortunately, this is exactly why he doesn't have a chance in hell for the presidency.

  • by i_ate_god (899684) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:19AM (#40611419) Homepage

    Quebec contributes significantly to the country.

    Quebec would have to declare bankruptcy though, but that's not an indication of the productive output of the province, but of rampant government corruption and mismanagement, across both the Quebec LIberals and PQ.

    How is it that the most taxed jurisdiction in North America has to deal with massive social unrest due to hiking a heavily subsidized tuition?

    I'm a quebecker, it makes no sense...

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:20AM (#40611427) Homepage Journal

    In the mean time some of these chronic dependents and their lists of ailments will enjoy less state funded coddling â" we can't afford to indulge every fool that can't function without having his hand held by an army of social workers.

    This whole story is just the CDC and the state funded medical industry resisting the necessary cuts. They've managed to trump up a 'health crisis' story using a single lunger and some FUD about the closing of one of a plethora of state funded facilities.

    You know, I spent ten years of my life, first as a military medic and then as a civilian EMT, taking care of people like you. Well, no, not actually people like you; most of them were decent human beings. But I took care of the ones who weren't, too. Hell, I took care of the ones who had just been trying to kill me. And I never once let my personal feelings get in the way of the care I delivered. No one ever died on my watch without me doing my damndest to prevent it from happening, even if the person doing the dying was the worst asshole to ever walk the Earth.

    And I have to say, in your case I'd be tempted to make an exception. Oh, I probably wouldn't, you understand, because just like most of my patients, I'm a decent human being. But I'd seriously consider it.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:23AM (#40611443) Journal

    Its incredibly pointless sit here and play our stupid partisan game on this issue,

    Well said.

    but if any party is to blame it would probably be the Republicans.

    Oh well. Drink to pointlessness!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:26AM (#40611465)

    And nearly every republican state also has the shortest times you can be on unemployment you drop off. Those unenployment statistics are virtually worthless on reflecting on whatis really going on.

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:34AM (#40611503)
    The problem with Paul is that he fails to see that 'official' power (i.e. government) is no different really than 'de facto' power wielded by corporations. I'm wary of the government, but I'm downright afraid of what multinational corporations would do if given free reign.
  • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:37AM (#40611517) Journal
    The founding fathers of the US didn't feel that way, and published their "Federalist Papers" under pseudonyms. Freedom to be anonymous guarantees freedom of speech. It also focuses the audience not on the speaker, but the message. With modern tech anonymous speech can't be prevented anyway so there's no point in trying to banish it unless you want to be The Best Korea.
  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:52AM (#40611587) Homepage Journal

    One cannot mention pertussis without also mentioning the Jenny McCarthy Body Count [jennymccar...ycount.com]. (Also valid for diphtheria, measles, etc, etc.)

  • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:55AM (#40611605)

    "Its not like you can'tget the TB treatement at any hospital, you can."

    The chances a privately owned hospital is going to house dozens of homeless black men, many with mental issues, for six months for a TB regimen are vanishingly small, unless the government makes them and the government picks up the staggering tab they will generate.

    You pretty much need a charity hospital or a state run hospital, which is why closing down the state run hospital that was housing the probably homeless people quarantined by court order probably caused a problem. The fact is the state run hospital probably did run up some huge bills for this kind of treatment which is why the Republican legislature and the Republican governor decided closing it was a convenient way to balance their budget. Hopefully there are other state run or charity hospitals that would pick up the slack, but since they started putting the homeless in to motels to try to force them to take the antibiotics with regular nurse visits, there is an implication that maybe the hospital facilities might not be there any more in Florida.

    Having a TB epidemic spiraling out of control is REALLY expensive, especially if you are a state that is heavily dependent on tourism.

    Just a guess but if anyone was trying to intentionally cover up this outbreak it was probably because they were worried what damage it would do their tourism industry if word got out, which it apparently just did.

    Seems kind of like a classic case of being penny wise and pound foolish. You probably should spend whatever it takes to control a TB outbreak, and catch it early, because the consequences of it spreading, and the damage it can do to your economy once it spreads, and the news of it spreads, is enormous.

  • by Z34107 (925136) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:03AM (#40611649)

    I know this is lost on some of you here, but there's a continuum between "world's largest inmate population" and "anarchy."

    I'll leave guessing which end we're at as an exercise for the reader.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:05AM (#40611665)

    I know this is lost on some of you here, but there's a continuum between "world's largest inmate population" and "anarchy.

    Truly, there's no reason a nation as special as us couldn't have both.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:37AM (#40611789)

    What are you talking about? Spain has an excellent healthcare programme. It did get suckered by construction companies into building a load of houses, however, and failed to take account of the fact that socialist programmes would increase lifespan such that it would become necessary to change pension provision.

    But this crisis is mostly manufactured as an excuse to get people to accept worse conditions. Europe's had far worse and its solution had been to spend on infrastructure to provide jobs and to increase self-reliance. You know, like Germany (which had its crisis about 7 years ago) - or China.

  • Only in USA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anared (2599669) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:55AM (#40611847)
    As a western country, USA is pretty third world
  • by nbauman (624611) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @05:42AM (#40612295) Homepage Journal

    Not only that, the Republican legislators and Governor closed down the only hospital in Florida that was treating the poor, homeless, substance abusers and mentally ill people who are the main ones who get TB, according to TFA. The Republicans knew about the CDC report as they pushed to close the hospital. That's why they concealed it.

    Now, even if they wanted to confine them, they would have no place to put them. Or rather -- they're putting them up now in motels. You realize that hospitals have special laundry equipment to sterilize the laundry. Motels don't.

    This is a time bomb. They're growing drug-resistant TB, which is incurable.

  • by Kagetsuki (1620613) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:21AM (#40612449)

    I think you misunderstood me: With freedom of anonymity comes freedom of speech, but freedom of speech does not guarantee anonymity. You shouldn't have to be anonymous to be able to speak freely, and it is to America merit that you have freedom of speach both anonymously and otherwise.

    And I am certainly not trying to banish it. My point above about not posting as AC is that with freedom of speech you should not be ashamed or fearful of making your opinions and views known as yourself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:36AM (#40612519)

    It is tiresome how southern EU countries keep being used in arguments against social programs, completely ignoring the fact that northern EU countries are doing exactly the same thing (or more) and are clearly faring much better - it should cause you to think about what the *actual* cause of Spain's problems is, but it never seems to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:36AM (#40612521)

    Before greece fucked everything up and started making everybody panic about the euro, spain actually had a very responsible attitude to debt. They were one of very few countries obeying the eurozone rules on quantities of debt, keeping total debt below the set percentage of GDP. They were living within their means, paying only what they could afford to spend.

    What got them was the economy of the entire continent flipping out, and having an economy built heavily on tourism, which relies on the rest of the eurozone having money to spend on holidays.

    Also, fuck you and fuck your attitude to the victims of this outbreak. Tuberculosis is not some deserved punishment on the poor for daring to be so foolish as to breathe. It is a lethal disease that can and does affect anybody who likes to let air into their lungs. Without careful management, it spreads, and it kills more and more people.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:47AM (#40612577)

    A TB outbreak is an emergency. No making immediately sure all affected are treated is just stupid. In the modern wold, nobody messes with this stuff. People that refuse treatment or do not take their medication go to closed hospital wards within a few days, and that does not require a court order initially.

    Mess with TB, and what you get is resistant strains that often cannot be cured anymore and people will start dying. This is one area where saving money initially is very, very expensive.

  • by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @07:36AM (#40612779)

    Dear Editors and NotSanguine,

    When you copy and paste an entire paragraph from a linked source without actually citing that source as the author of said material, you're committing plagiarism. NotSanguine did not write this blurb; Muriel Kane of Raw Story did.

    Respect authorship.

    Funny how slashdot is up in arms over plagiarism and yet thinks (generally speaking) that pirating copyrighted material is for the common good.

  • by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:09AM (#40612955)

    The 's' stands for simpletons who can't spell speech, yet insist on lecturing other people about how important it is.

  • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:35AM (#40613209)

    And I have to say, in your case I'd be tempted to make an exception.

    Why? Because you disagree with him? The original story BTW was a slam. I don't agree on motives, but it's pretty clear that the author of the piece was using it both as a hit piece on the Republican party while simultaneously putting a word in for a little socialized medicine, the state-funded hospital which specialized in treating TB cases. In other words, a caricature of human thought.

    Digging around in the original story [palmbeachpost.com], I came across this interesting tidbit:

    It was early February when Duval County Health Department officials felt so overwhelmed by the sudden spike in tuberculosis that they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to become involved. Believing the outbreak affected only their underclass, the health officials made a conscious decision not to not tell the public, repeating a decision they had made in 2008, when the same strain had appeared in an assisted living home for people with schizophrenia.

    âoeWhat you donâ(TM)t want is for anyone to have another reason why people should turn their backs on the homeless,â said Charles Griggs, the public information officer for the Duval County Health Department.

    In other words, the outbreak allegedly was kept secret to protect the homeless from being ostracized. But the Slashdot-linked story only mentions the first paragraph, implying that Republicans had suppressed the information about these cases because it only affected an underclass. That may end up being true, but it's not a given from the original story.

    And I have to say, in your case I'd be tempted to make an exception. Oh, I probably wouldn't, you understand, because just like most of my patients, I'm a decent human being. But I'd seriously consider it.

    You could have just added, there's over a hundred cases in a difficult to treat population and it really is serious. But no you had to take the moral high road and tell him how tempted you were to off him without providing any reason whatsoever.

    My view is that two stories have been linked which aren't necessarily connected. The TB story seems to me a typical case of someone burying an urgent problem for rather unseemly motives. It may be as claimed that they were attempting to protect an "underclass" (killing it in the process) or it may be that they were hiding an inconvenient problem for the political sausage making that was restructuring Florida's state-run health care at the time.

    They have a large bunch of possible TB cases that need to be found and treated. We'll see if they do that.

    The seemingly connected problem is that of the restructuring of state hospitals. It's worth noting here that the restructuring may be sound over the long term, but implemented in a way that hampers short term responses to emergencies. If nobody knows at the time who is supposed to do what (especially difficult given that a legislature decides a lot of those issues on the fly), then that can cause more problems during the period of uncertainty than the old system would have caused.

    A similar situation happened just prior to the infamous flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina (FEMA wasn't supposed to coordinate disaster response any more) and that weakened efforts to respond to the disaster.

    But is the situation worsened because there's no longer a TB-specialized hospital out there? The primary complaint seems to be that the health departments no longer have a place where they can force homeless people to take TB medication. That doesn't sound like much of a complaint to me. You could always set up temporary wards at regular hospitals until the outbreak has been wiped out. It still remains that the usual background rate for TB is probably too low to justify a specialized hospital for it.

  • by KevinIsOwn (618900) <herrkevin AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:20AM (#40613653) Homepage

    The difference being that at least I can switch the company I'm dealing with but the government is the ultimate monopoly ...

    Please do tell me how you plan to "switch the company" you're dealing with when said company is, for example, poisoning your well water through fracking, or polluting a river or the air around your house. A strict libertarian philosophy has no solution for externalities, other than hand-waving, i.e. everyone can form class-action lawsuits! Or the invisible hand will magically deal with it!

    The solution is simple: You should be wary of both corporations and government and support checks and balances on both.

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:50AM (#40614075)

    I'm exactly the opposite. I'm wary of multinational corporations but I'm downright afraid of what government can and does do when given free reign.

    Most of the really terrible things (Western) governments do these days are in the name of corporate profits, because corporations have gained power over government. At least doing things for the public good is in the mission statement for government. The corporation's only interest is in acquiring as much of the pie as it can for itself and its investors. If you don't see a conflict of interest between absolute greed and the common good, then you've drowned in the kool aid.

    The difference being that at least I can switch the company I'm dealing with but the government is the ultimate monopoly and represents the ultimate tragedy of the commons where people vote themselves goodies without caring how it affects the overall health of the economy.

    Because corporations would never do something for themselves at the detriment of the economy as a whole, right?

  • by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:15PM (#40617557)

    You can be inarticulate and still be right.

    But would anyone know?

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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