Community leaders say the nationwide shortage of Tuberculosis Tests may have a big impact locally

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The shortage of Tuberculosis Tests nationwide is causing concern tonight.  Organizations like The Mission of Kern County depend on those vaccines to prevent an outbreak from turning into an epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the shortage in the spring, which continues to be a big concern for service groups that test for the bacteria almost everyday.

Dennis, 20, is thankful to be staying at the Mission of Kern County.

"I needed a place to stay," he said.

Like all residents he's required to be tested for Tuberculosis, a bacteria that usually attacks the lungs.

"At first, I was kind of scared because I don't like needles, but it's easy," he said.

Leaders with the Mission say they get close to three hundred people a night and with a TB test shortage that could spell big problems.

"If you have an outbreak of TB, it could be an epidemic in a community, which can turn into a large city and affect your population," said Carlos Balbovinos, executive director of the Mission of Kern County.

The cost for each test $34, which Mission leaders say adds up fast.

"The community, I mean it would be great if they would rally around it because we need to have those kind of services especially TB.  TB is something that, a lot of times people don't think about the epidemic of something like that," he said.

TB testing at the Mission helps residents acquire jobs and even pursue educational opportunities which all require people to be tested.

"We have men that are coming in from the gutter, literally.  Some of them have been on the street five, ten, some even twenty years and the health conditions that they have been living in is often very questionable," said Joe Raddatz, homeless intervention services director.

Health experts are counting on the TB tests to be readily available by next month.


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