Homeless ‘tent cities’ ripe for infectious disease outbreaks


[The] luxury of modern life is due to the strong defense provided by the “pillars” of our public health system. According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, these pillars include chlorination (of the water supply), vaccination, and pasteurization (of dairy and other products). We could also add medication (i.e., antibiotics and other antimicrobials) to this list. If just one of these pillars is taken away, we can fully expect bad things to happen. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses like measles serve as a case-in-point.

Nowhere is the breakdown of public health more obvious than in “tent cities” and other locations where homeless people live. In San Diego, an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A among the homeless has already hospitalized nearly 300 people and taken the lives of 16.

This raises the thorny issue of involuntary commitment. If a person is incapable of taking care of himself, should society force this person into a treatment facility against his will? […] Most Americans are rightly squeamish about forcing people to do anything against their will. But allowing homeless people to do whatever they want is no longer a viable solution. When a community fails to practice proper hygiene and sanitation, it becomes a ticking time bomb for infectious disease.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Homeless Camps Are Infectious Disease Time Bombs