FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018

Second TB patient in Florida wandered unchecked

A look into the 2008 tuberculosis epidemic in Jacksonville, Florida, has determined that a second homeless tuberculosis patient fell through the cracks in 2010 and could have infected others during that time.

The man allegedly slipped through every program meant to stop the spread of TB by an infected individual. The homeless individual was diagnosed with active tuberculosis at the end of 2010 at Jacksonville's Memorial Hospital. An attempt to transfer the patient to the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana failed and he was instead sent to a local homeless shelter, the Palm Beach Post reports.

When the shelter realized where the patient came from and what his health problem was, they refused to admit him and he disappeared into the city. Hundreds of people may have been exposed to the disease before the patient was finally found.

A similar incident occurred in 2008 when a homeless man, referred to as the index patient, exposed as many as 3,000 people to the FL 046 TB strain.

When the second TB patient was finally located, he was sent to A.G. Holley to resume the treatment of his prescribed medicine, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Kevin Davis, a Duval County Health Department manager, complained about the way the incident was handled to his supervisor. Davis was accused of engaging in unauthorized driving of the department's van and was fired. He later filed a complaint about discrimination and included concerns about how the TB patient was handled in the matter.

"If something was wrong, I spoke up," Davis said, according to the Palm Beach Post. "And when you speak up, you get in trouble."

The whistleblower complaint was reviewed by the state Department of Health before fading away without incident.