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updated: 8/14/2014 4:18 PM

Worst TB outbreak in 5 years hits Alabama prisons

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Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Health officials say Alabama's badly overcrowded prison system that is being sued over medical treatment of inmates is dealing with its worst outbreak of tuberculosis in five years.

Officials say they've diagnosed nine active cases of the infectious respiratory disease in state prisons this year.

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Alabama prisons averaged fewer than five cases annually each year since 2009.

The state director of tuberculosis control, Pam Barrett, says St. Clair prison isn't accepting new inmates because of the outbreak, and prisoners also aren't being transferred out.

Barrett hopes the outbreak is nearing an end.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Center filed suit against Alabama prisons in June claiming the state failed to provide inmates with basic care for medical and mental health problems.

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