Active Case of Tuberculosis at Vanderburgh County Plant

Published 04/07 2014 05:16PM

Updated 04/07 2014 05:24PM

Before the 1940's Tuberculosis was one of the leading causes of death in America. After a medical breakthrough the disease is not seen nearly as often. "Finding an active Tuberculosis case is not all that unusual. Although we do not have a high number of them. The last several years we've had less than five per year," said Chris Allen of the Vanderburgh County Health Department.

The most recent active case of TB in Vanderburgh County involves a worker at AmeriQual. An AmeriQual representative says the worker was hired through a temp agency. While the employee hasn't worked in the plant in four months, employees are still at risk. "It doesn't take a lot of exposure. It could be you were in the same room with the person or down the hallway," said Dr. David Ryon at Deaconess Hospital.

Tuberculosis is transmitted through the air. It is not commonly transmitted by contact with surfaces. TB shows symptoms is a gradual way and can take several months to become active. It can also lay dormant and never show symptoms. Healthcare officials say those people still need treatment. "If you know you've been exposed to somebody with Tuberculosis it's important to be skin tested and that's the first step," said Allen.

Dr. Ryon demonstrates that a test involves injecting fluid under the  skin on the forearm and waiting 48 hours for the skin to react either positive or negative. "The good news especially for catching Tuberculosis around Evansville is this is a very treatable disease nowadays," said Dr. Allen.

Treatment can last more than a year involving taking several antibiotics in different stages. However Doctor Ryon says most people are universally cured once diagnosed early on.

An AmeriQual representative says there is no concern TB could be transmitted through the food the plant processes. He says the company will continue to work with the health department to take necessary steps to keep the disease from spreading.

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