The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has reported an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) among young adults born in China and living in or linked to Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria/CDC
Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria/CDC

Fifteen outbreak-associated cases have been identified since June 2013; seven of these have been identified since September 2014. All patients have drug-susceptible, pulmonary tuberculosis. Other common patient characteristics include male gender, frequent use of internet cafes, and work in out-of-state restaurants.

The Health Department is working collaboratively with local healthcare providers, community organizations and others to identify and interrupt ongoing transmission and facilitate prompt healthcare seeking among persons with TB symptoms and potentially exposed individuals. The Health Department encourages healthcare providers to stay vigilant for TB, and asks that providers consider TB when patients present with fever and cough of several weeks duration, hemoptysis, night sweats, or weight loss.

NYC health officials say patients at higher risk for TB infection: People who have spent time around a person with active TB disease; People from areas with high TB rates, including mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and people with a recent prolonged (>1 month) stay in countries with high TB rates.

Tuberculosis is caused by an organism called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The organism usually attacks the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain. TB is curable, but if not treated properly can be fatal.