“It should go without saying that lots of people sleeping outside in a park as we head toward winter is not an ideal situation for anyone’s health.” Ya think?
The “Obamavilles” of the #Occupy movement are a health and safety hazard to all of us. Just for starters, they are breeding grounds for deadly diseases that can quickly spread outside the camps.
With wintry weather poised to swoop into the cramped outdoor quarters of Occupy Wall Street protesters, it may not be long before more campers catch what’s being called “Zuccotti lung.”
That’s what demonstrators have dubbed the sickness that seems to be spreading among them at an unpleasantly high rate these days: “It’s a real thing,” Willie Carey, 28, told the New York Times.
With little sleep in cold conditions, cigarettes and drinks being passed from mouth to mouth, and few opportunities to wash hands, Zuccotti Park may now just be the best place to catch respiratory viruses, norovirus (also known as the winter vomiting virus) and tuberculosis, according to one doctor.
The damp clothing and cardboard signs wet with rain are also breeding grounds for mold. Some protesters are urinating in bottles and leaving food trash discarded throughout the campground, providing further opportunities for nastiness.
“Pretty much everything here is a good way to get sick,” Salvatore Cipolla, 23, from Long Island, told the Times. “It’ll definitely thin the herd.”
Some protesters have refused free flu shots, citing a “government conspiracy,” the Times said.
There is also the increased risk among the encampment of sexually transmitted diseases, said the doctor, Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr. of the NYU Langone Medical Center. And the site’s pounding circles could lead to hearing damage.
Tierno compared conditions at the park to the pilgrimage to Mecca, in which entire groups of people have come down with respiratory infections in short period of time, and the communal compounds of the 1960s where sanitation problems and STDs cropped up.
The health department has visited the site and is monitoring.
“It should go without saying that lots of people sleeping outside in a park as we head toward winter is not an ideal situation for anyone’s health,” the department said in a statement.
It is also unsafe for protesters to be sleeping night after night in close quarters with homeless people whose health status is unknown. Homeless people are likely to carry active tuberculosis, often drug-resistant strains. Tuberculosis can be spread in various ways, such as by sharing air space with infected individuals for a prolonged period of time. Although an Occupy Atlanta organizer insists that tests show no tuberculosis infection among his group thus far, the abysmal sanitation practices that are rife among Occupiers make contagion all too likely.
A homeless shelter that has been housing more than 100 “Occupy Atlanta” protesters has tested positive for tuberculosis (TB), WGCL-TV reported Thursday.
At least two people at the Atlanta shelter have contracted the air-borne disease, a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs and other organs.
“One of these persons was confirmed to have a strain of TB that is resistant to a single, standard medication,”
Fulton County Services Director Matthew McKenna said in a written statement to WGCL-TV.
He said both infected people have begun treatment and are being monitored. It is unclear if the two cases were among the homeless population or the anti-Wall Street protesters.
The shelter has become one of the city’s largest bases for “Occupy” protesters since police shut down an encampment at a municipal park last month.
The Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless indicated that two cases have been made public knowledge to the protesters.
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