Let’s get the Elisa Lam tuberculosis theory explained. A Reddit user shared the theory some years ago, but what exactly is it?

If you weren’t very familiar with the Elisa Lam case before 2021, then thanks to Netflix, you certainly are now.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel explores the horrors and mysteries of the downtown Los Angeles hotel, focusing on the renowned case of a 21-year-old student.

Across four parts, audiences are invited to explore and analyse Elisa’s disappearance and tragic death. She was found on top of the hotel roof inside of a water tank in 2013, after officials had been searching extensively for her whereabouts.

Many members of the public became obsessed with the case after footage of her prior to her disappearance was shared online. The clip showed her entering and exiting an elevator, which sparked a range of theories.

So, let’s address the Elisa Lam tuberculosis theory.

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still from Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Netflix

Elisa Lam: Tuberculosis theory explained

Perhaps one of the most elaborate theories to emerge, the tuberculosis theory suggests that Elisa Lam was actually a test subject for some kind of tuberculosis medication.

Posted around five years ago, a Reddit post reads:

“After she was found, a huge outbreak of a unique drug-resistant TB occurred in the same area of her disappearance. How do you diagnose TB? With a LAM-ELISA test.”

The Tab confirms that there was actually a 2013 TB outbreak in downtown LA’s Skid Row. Additionally, there was a test for it which was called LAM-ELISA.

The Reddit page links to a website called Ghost Theory, which highlights the coincidence of the test and the deceased having a very similar name. As for the theory, it suggests that the behaviour Elisa exhibited in the elevator was linked to side effects of anti-TB medication.

Theorists also address a potential explanation in the Netflix documentary, arguing that Elisa could’ve been a subject who “knew too much” and was fatally silenced. We’re also told in the documentary that the university Elisa attended housed an important TB research centre.

The 2013 tuberculosis outbreak in L.A.

In February 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported that public health officials had launched a new effort to contain an outbreak of tuberculosis in downtown L.A.’s skid row.

They were searching for over 4,500 people who may have been exposed to the disease and scientists were sent to L.A. to help them determine why the disease was spreading, as well as how to prevent it from spreading further.

The source notes that, of almost 80 cases and 11 deaths related to tuberculosis since 2007, most were homeless living in or near skid row.

Jonathan Fielding – director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health – said: “This is the largest outbreak in a decade. We are really putting all of our resources into this.”

In other news, what did the toxicology report show?