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August 25, 1978

Surveying 2,020 Vagrants for Tuberculosis

Author Affiliations

New Orleans Health Department New Orleans

JAMA. 1978;240(8):739. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290080029014

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To the Editor.—  An inordinate fondness for alcohol and a nondiscriminating life-style characterize a population of homeless men who frequent New Orleans's streets and alleyways. We did not know whether these men were at risk of tuberculosis until we asked the city's missionaries to send everyone applying for shelter at a mission to the Wetmore Tuberculosis Clinic for a chest roentgenogram. As a result, we made chest roentgenograms on 2,020 vagrants in 1977 and found 156 (about 7.7%) who had lesions suggestive of tuberculosis.There was only one woman in the group of 156 tuberculosis suspects. The youngest suspect was 19 years old; the oldest, 83 years old. Most were between the ages of 30 and 60 years: 15 were 29 years or younger; 128, between 30 and 59 years; and 13, 60 years or older.We recalled all 156 tuberculosis suspects, but 134 eluded us. With the missionaries' help,