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Inauspicious Beginning for Public Health in 2005

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Los Angeles has a new possible public health crisis on its, er, hands. According to the Daily News, the increase of staph infections among the LA County jail population has quadrupled, infecting over 200 inmates compared to 50 each month in 2002. Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, Director of Public Health and Health Officer for Los Angeles County, points to the risk of the outbreak as “a growing problem” since it also threatens State prisons as well as the general public. This particularly antibiotic-resistant strain doesn’t help matters either.

Whether the infection, which is transmitted via physical contact or contaminated surfaces, started within or beyond the walls remains a mystery. The number of inmates who carry the infection before entering jails, however, has increased 9 percent since last year.

For everyone’s sake, LAist skeptically hopes this problem is adequately and efficiently addressed. Properly dealing with the matter is crucial in light of persisting problems at County jails. Does the County Sheriff's office really want to court more bad press following the overcrowding/understaffing/underfunding issue in the media last year?

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