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Addison workers' TB tests positive

By Eric Fleischauer 340-2435

Six Addison workers who previously tested negative for tuberculosis tested positive on Wednesday.

X-rays taken the same day indicated that none of the employees had active TB disease, which is contagious.

In August, an employee of Cavalier Homes was diagnosed with active TB disease. The State Department of Public Health immediately administered skin tests to 108 employees. Ten of those were positive.

"As a matter of our follow-up, we did a retest the other day," said Dr. Karen Landers, "and we found six people that had positive skin tests that probably were in close contact with the patient."

Landers said the employee with active TB disease was born outside the United States, but declined to say in what country.

Latent TB infection has no symptoms and is not contagious, but it can later progress to active TB disease if the immune system is compromised.

"The outstanding news is that there are no new cases of (active) tuberculosis as a result of this," Landers said.

It can take eight to 10 weeks before a person infected with TB tests positive, so health officials routinely test employees once when the active disease case is discovered, and again after about two months.

People who test negative on the first test but positive on the second test usually contracted the infection from the individual with active TB disease.

In Decatur, 212 Wayne Farms employees recently tested positive for TB after a former employee was hospitalized with active tuberculosis disease. One of the 212 has tested positive.

The positive test results include 165 that were first identified Thursday. They received chest X-rays the same day. Health officials said doctors would evaluate the X-rays early next week to determine if any have active TB disease.

Health officials did not test employees at Wayne Farms twice because the first employee identified as having the disease had left the company two months before he was diagnosed.

Symptoms of active TB disease include coughing, bloody sputum, weight loss, chills and painful breathing.

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