Tuberculosis scare at South Georgia chicken plant -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tuberculosis scare at South Georgia chicken plant

October 4, 2006

Mitchell County--  Health officials are investigating a case of tuberculosis at a major South Georgia chicken processing plant. The infectious disease can be deadly. Now,  the Georgia Division of Equity Group in Mitchell County is trying to make sure the illness doesn't spread.

About 2,800 employees enter and leave these grounds at Equity Group Georgia Division each day. Over the past few days, some employees haven't caught a whiff of the health scare on site.

"I haven't heard much," said one employee leaving for the day. But others did. "It's bad. They say it's contagious," said employee Marianne Perez.

One employee recently tested positive for tuberculosis, an infectious disease that can affect the lungs and the nervous system. The disease can be spread through the air to people who have close contact like friends, family and co-workers. That's why Equity Group is taking precaution.

Under the direction of the Health Department, employees at the plant are now being tested for TB, but not all departments have been affected.

"Everybody in debone had to get a shot," said employee Angela Gaines. Employees say that's where a male employee diagnosed with TB worked. 

In a statement to WALB, General Manager Clay Banks said, "Nothing is more important at Equity Group Georgia Division than the safety of our employees and products. The Equity Group has a track record of excellence. We will continue to cooperate with the Department of Public Health because of our commitment to our employees and customers."

As they continue that commitment, more employees could be tested but some people leaving work today feel confident that things are o.k.

"I work in further processing and right now it's not a real big threat because I work on the other side of the plant and from as far as what I hear, everything is maintained and under control," said an employee. And they hope testing and precaution keeps it that way.

The USDA says the disease does not affect the chicken at the plant. As always, they do however suggest you make sure you wash chicken properly and wash your hands.

Equity Group also maintains there is no reason for anyone to be concerned about the quality and safety of their chicken. They say their facility remains safe to operate.



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