Man with TB may sue homeless shelter

Published On: Aug 30 2012 04:26:10 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 16 2012 12:50:12 PM EDT

Man says a shelter did not do enough to prevent his contact with the disease.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A Jacksonville man who says he was exposed to tuberculosis in a local homeless shelter claims the shelter did not do enough to prevent it.

That man, who doesn't want to be identified, is considering legal action.

The man believes he was exposed to TB in July at the Trinity Rescue Mission.

The Duval County Health Department acknowledges there is a TB problem in the area, but health officials say they are doing everything they can to stop the contagious disease. They say the disease spreads from person to person through the air, and they've implemented new measures in finding the source.

The man said he ended up losing his job as a result of contracting TB, and he said the Rescue Mission should have informed him of recent TB cases.

Officials at the Rescue Mission say it's standard operating procedure for all people to be tested before they're admitted. They say far too often, though, the homeless show up for the tests but then never come back for their results.

The Health Department says it has screened and tested more than 1,500 homeless individuals for TB since July. About 12 percent of the those screened were exposed to TB.

Last year, 71 TB cases were reported in Duval County.

The man in this case says more should have been done.

"I was never notified from Trinity (Rescue) Mission personally that people were coming in with TB, and I believe others did not either," he said. "I mean, we never talked about it. Like, people discussed it. So it was pretty much kept on the quiet side."

Officials at the Rescue Mission say it's not their obligation to disclose personal health information to individuals about TB. However, they point out that the Health Department has five teams of health professionals per week focused on screening the homeless.

The man in this case said he is contacting an attorney.

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