County responds to local TB case

A rare case of tuberculosis (TB) in Auglaize County is being investigated by local health officials to prevent its spread.

A man working at a Wapakoneta business was found to have contracted the disease and tests are being conducted on his co-workers and close personal contacts, Auglaize County Health Commissioner Charlotte Parsons said.

She said earlier this week nurses tested 90 percent of the man’s co-workers.

“We have no results yet,” Parsons said.  “All of his family contacts have been tested, also.”

She said health officials will have to wait and see if any of those tests are positive.

Parsons said it is believed that the man contracted TB years ago and it had been latent until he suffered a severe respiratory infection earlier this year.

“This is not a high incidence area of the state for TB,” Parsons said. “It is rare, so we have gotten a lot of help from ODH (Ohio Department of Health) on the best way to manage it.

“We need to make sure those in daily close contact with him were not infected with it,” she said, explaining the testing of the man’s co-workers was precautionary and something the business felt necessary.

She said it was important to test close contacts, where it could have more easily been spread.

“You have to have pretty close contact over a period of time to contract it,” Parsons said of the airborne disease.

Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres said it is believed the man contracted TB while in prison, not in Auglaize County.

Parsons described TB as a serious disease, which can have severe consequences, but it is treatable.

Symptoms of TB include continuous coughing. It may seem like an upper respiratory illness, but it can get pretty severe, Parsons said, saying it can lay dormant.

“Our main concern is not only seeing that this person is treated and gets well, but that anyone else who contracted it is treated as well and it doesn’t spread,” Parsons said.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 million people throughout the world became sick with TB in 2011 and there were approximately 1.4 million TB-related deaths worldwide.

In the United States, the most TB cases can be found in California, Texas, New York and Florida, Torres said. The Asian population has the largest number of cases, followed closely by Hispanics.

He said most people who are infected with TB are foreign born, with the number of cases approximately 3 1/2 per 100,000 people.