12 residents test positive in TB exam

March 30, 1995|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Twelve Carroll County residents have tested positive for tuberculosis after being exposed to a man who violated state home quarantine regulations after his release from the Carroll County Detention Center.

County health department officials said the man was found to have infectious tuberculosis during a routine screening at the detention center last month.

The health department began testing people who might have been exposed to the man after he was released on bond Feb. 23.

"Some of the contacts have come back positive and they have received the appropriate follow-up," said Debbie G. Middleton, supervisor of communicable diseases with the county health department.

A positive test indicates a person has been infected with the tuberculosis organism. Ms. Middleton said the 12 people who tested positive are not contagious and don't have active tuberculosis.

Citing medical confidentiality laws, health department officials would not identify the man or any of the people who were exposed to the infection.

So far, health department workers and nurses at the detention center have tested 200 people who may have been exposed to the man, Ms. Middleton said. She expects testing to continue for several months.

The health department is testing the man's family, work and social contacts and people who have informed the department that they had contact with him.

Health officials in another state are also testing people who came in contact with the man. Ms. Middleton wouldn't identify the state.

Earlier this month the man voluntarily committed himself to a medical facility after violating state home quarantine regulations. is no longer contagious and has been removed from quarantine, Ms. Middleton said.

The health department had ordered the man to home quarantine after his release from the detention center.

Dr. Janet W. Neslen, the county health officer, said the man broke home quarantine on several occasions and placed himself in situations where he could have infected other people.

Ms. Middleton said anyone testing positive for the tuberculosis infection is given a chest X-ray. A pulmonary specialist then determines whether the infected person must begin taking the required course of medication. Risk factors such as age and the extent of exposure are considered in the decision.

In three months, the health department will retest those contacts who originally tested negative for the tuberculosis infection.

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs that is spread through the air, usually when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys or spine.

People infected with the tuberculosis organism have a 10 percent chance over their lifetime of developing the active disease. They have a greater risk of developing the disease in the first two years after infection, health officials said.

Mason Waters, the detention center warden, said no jail staff or inmates have tested positive for the tuberculosis infection.

During his 10-day stay at the jail, the man was never moved to the general jail population of 130 to 150 inmates, Mr. Waters said. He remained in a single cell in the screening unit, which has a capacity of 16 inmates, he said.

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