Tuberculosis breaks out at city's largest homeless shelter - CBS46 News

Tuberculosis breaks out at city's largest homeless shelter

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The Fulton County Health Department confirmed some residents at the city's largest homeless shelter contracted drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The shelter at Peachtree and Pine Streets has been battling eviction. It is also where the anti-Wall Street group Occupy Atlanta has set up its current base.

The agency would not disclose the identities of the people infected, how many were infected or when they contracted the disease.

"There have recently been persons diagnosed with INH resistant, active, infectious tuberculosis in this facility.  Person(s) identified as positive have begun treatment and are being monitored to ensure that medication is taking as directed," said Matthew McKenna, health director with Fulton County Health Services, in a written statement.

More than 100 Occupy Atlanta protestors have been sleeping at the shelter for weeks. William Marshall, a protestor, said he wanted to find out if members and residents are at risk of contracting tuberculosis. "Anyone would be concerned about any outbreak of TB," Marshall said.

But Marshall and other protestors said they are not especially worried. "Not at all," Marshall said.

CBS Atlanta asked if protestors would consider moving. "We'd have to consider that and all of the options and see what we could do," Marshall said.

Protestors said they want hard evidence before they'd think of leaving.

Anita Beaty — executive director of the metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, which is the group that runs the shelter — said the health department told her that someone contracted the disease in September. "There are at most two cases that we know of," Beaty said.

But she said the agency did not tell her who contracted it. "We don't the identity of the people. We don't know the time frame," Beaty said.

CBS Atlanta asked Beaty if anyone was at risk. "Not presently that we know of," Beaty said.

CBS Atlanta called health department to ask them if residents and protestors at risk. They would not speak on camera, but in a telephone interview, a spokeswoman said there is a possibility that demonstrators and the people the shelter serves may be at risk since tuberculosis is spread through the air, via coughing, sneezing or speaking.

The agency would not tell CBS Atlanta how many people tested positive for the illness.

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