In April, an official from the Centers for Disease Control warned Florida officials that a tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville, Fla. which had killed 13 and sickened 99 people was the worst his group had seen in decades. But the report, issued as the state was shrinking its health department — and shuttering the hospital where tough TB cases had typically been treated — in the wake of budget cuts championed by Governor Rick Scott, went mostly ignored. As a result, key decision makers went uninformed about the outbreak, and it wasn’t revealed to the public until June, meaning it has continued to spread and to this day isn’t fully contained. In addition to the potential for more illnesses and deaths, this could cost Florida a lot of money: Treating TB is expensive, but it becomes much more so if the patient’s body develops a resistance to the medicine by not taking it consistently—the cost can jump from $500 to more than $275,000.
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