Public reassured about downtown L.A. TB outbreak

A top health official said on Tuesday that Angelenos are not in danger of contracting tuberculosis from an outbreak in the skid row neighborhood, though a police warning may be telling a different story.

The Los Angeles Police Department recently issued a warning to its officers, advising them to wear cautionary protective facemasks when patrolling the skid row area. The warning came from an internal communication sent to officers and employees in the LAPD's Central Division, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Jonathan Fielding, the head of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said that members of the public would not contract the disease unless they made frequent and close contact with someone who has TB. He said that while the outbreak is unusual, it is not a particularly virulent strain, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Since 2007, 11 people died from TB in Los Angeles and 78 people were infected with the disease overall. Of those infected, 60 of them were homeless and, of that number, 25 percent were HIV-positive.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently sent scientists to the area to help health officials determine why the outbreak is spreading. The TB strain is exclusive to the Los Angeles area with few isolated cases outside the region, the Los Angeles Times reports.