Florida unveils new TB treatment protocol

Health officials in Florida unveiled a new statewide protocol on Monday for counties to treat tuberculosis with the goal of cutting the rate of the disease in half by 2020.

Health officials were recently criticized for how they handled an outbreak of TB in Jacksonville that was first detected in 2009. The state closed its last TB hospital in July in the midst of an outbreak among the homeless, reports.

"This is a system that will work to eliminate tuberculosis in our state and along the way continue to assure the care of patients with TB while protecting our citizens," John Armstrong, the surgeon general of Florida, said, according to "This is a program that will put the focus on our patients."

The protocol determines how state and local health officials will respond to TB infection based on how severe the disease is. The new procedure also requires counties to act in a certain way instead of doing things on their own.

Health officials in Jacksonville did not inform lawmakers of an outbreak of TB that has infected 112 people and killed 13 in the area since 2004 as the lawmakers were deciding whether or not to close the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Palm Beach County. The hospital closed six months ahead of schedule on July 2, reports.

The goal of the new protocol is to cut the TB infection rate to two people per 100,000. There have been 284 cases of TB reported in the state so far this year.