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Old 08-09-2003, 03:19 PM
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danielle danielle is offline
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Exclamation Three more people show TB symptons

Three more people show TB symptons

Health officials says if diagnoses are confirmed, probe of exposure would widen


Environment Editor

Health Department officials investigating a contagious case of tuberculosis in a Mobile work-release inmate said Friday that three more people in the Mobile area have shown full-blown symptoms of the disease.

If diagnoses of tuberculosis are confirmed in these three next week, health department officials say, they will have to broaden their investigation to include still more Mobilians who might have been exposed to the disease through prolonged contact with work-release inmates.

Health department officials could not rule out the possibility that other inmates and others in the general public associated with this outbreak also have contagious cases of the disease.

In July, health department officials discovered a full-blown case of tuberculosis in a work-release inmate who had worked for several months in the kitchen of Barnhill's Restaurant at Airport and University boulevards.

Joe Jablecki, tuberculosis control coordinator for Mobile County, estimated that state and county health officials already have tested some 400 people in the Mobile area who might have been exposed to the disease through contract with the inmate, who was based at the state's Mobile work-release facility on Beltline Highway.

Seven restaurant employees and more than a third of the approximately 240 inmates at the work release facility have tested positive for exposure to the disease, according to health officials.

Thursday, Jablecki said that none of those who tested positive appeared to have developed an active -- and contagious -- case of the disease.

But Friday, Jablecki said that two inmates at the facility appeared to be "highly symptomatic" with full-blown tuberculosis, even before the tests were administered, and had been transferred immediately. Chest X-rays from those inmates revealed abnormalities typically associated with active tuberculosis, he said.

Jablecki said at least one other person "in the general population" also showed symptoms of the disease. He said he could not say whether that person worked at the restaurant, the prison or elsewhere.

Alabama Department of Corrections officials confirmed that two more inmates at the Mobile work-release facility have been sent to the Kilby Correctional Facility near Montgomery, where tuberculosis cases are treated. One employee of the prison system also has a "suspect case" of the disease, according to Brian Corbett with the Department of Corrections.

Health and prison officials stressed that they could not rule out the possibility that the symptoms and the abnormal chest X-rays were the result of an illness other than tuberculosis. More lab work will be required to positively identify the presence of active tuberculosis bacteria, they said.

Neither prison nor health officials would agree to release the names of the businesses where the inmates worked, saying it was not yet a matter the public needed to be concerned about. Prison officials estimate that the inmates at the Mobile facility work at some 60 businesses in the Mobile area.

"We would never voluntarily release the name of a work site to the general public, only in the case that we need to," said Nancy Keenon, statewide tuberculosis coordinator for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Health care officials said tuberculosis is spread almost exclusively by prolonged exposure to an infected person in close quarters, where there is little sunlight and poor air circulation. The state's overcrowded prisons are considered nearly ideal breeding grounds for the disease.

Health officials said they still are investigating how diseased work-release inmates might have escaped the prison's health care surveillance system.

Tuberculosis infections are much less likely to be spread by casual contact in public places, health officials say, and the threat of infection is no greater in a restaurant than it is in a bank or a church. Because the bacteria infects the lungs and is highly sensitive to changes in moisture and environment, it is not spread through food and does not survive on inanimate objects, such as tables or dishes.

"Any place you name, I could say we've at some time had a case of tuberculosis -- in schools, public places, every work place you could name," Keenon said.

Tuberculosis, once it advances to its active form, is one of the world's deadliest diseases. In many developed countries, including the United States, aggressive control programs and preventive treatments have dramatically reduced the number of full-blown cases.

With no preventive treatment, about 10 percent of people who test positive will eventually develop an active case of tuberculosis at some point in their lives, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. With proper preventive treatment, the chances of developing full-blown tuberculosis are considered remote.
Monica Danielle
On September 22, 2003, my better half came home after 657 days in an Alabama prison!!!

And he's now forever free - passing away from this life and into the next - on January 9, 2010.

My Sweet Wayne
January 21, 1954 - January 9, 2010

I'll always love you.
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