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Feb 25, 2013 8:33 PM by Jacqui Heinrich, jheinrich@koaa.com

LA cops reminded to wear masks in downtown TB area

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles police officers are being reminded to use face masks and wash their hands frequently when dealing with sick people following an outbreak of tuberculosis in downtown's Skid Row.

Detective. Gus Villanueva said Monday that officers must always report interacting with ill people while on patrol so diseases can be tracked. Villanueva says he hasn't heard of any exposures or tuberculosis among officers in the latest outbreak.

The Los Angeles Times has reported 11 deaths in nearly 80 cases of the illness since 2007. Most of the victims were homeless people living on downtown streets. Federal health authorities plan to investigate the outbreak.

Tuberculosis is a highly contagious and sometimes lethal illness spread by airborne contact such as coughing, sneezing and spitting.

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