100 Equity Group employees test positive for TB germ
October 10, 2006
Mitchell County- One hundred employees at a Mitchell County chicken processing plant must undergo further tuberculosis testing after initially testing positive for the TB germ. Six hundred employees were tested after a co-worker in the de-boning section of the plant was diagnosed with an active strain of TB last week. Worldwide, about 30 percent of the population is infected with TB. It kills nearly five thousand Americans a year. That's why it's so important to treat those who may have been infected.
The results of initial skin test revealed 100 Equity Group employees tested positive for latent TB or the TB germ. The Southwest Georgia Health Department is now in the process of questioning those workers about their general health.
"We'll go with symptomology, are they coughing? Do they have night sweats? Have they lost weight? Do they have a fever, an unusual fever? Have they lost their appetite?" said Daniel Staib, RN, and director of the Southwest Georgia Health District's Acute, Chronic & Infections Disease Program.
Equity employees who test positive will also have a chest x-ray to check their lungs for signs of an active TB case.
"We'll look for unusual markings within their lungs it could be a plural infusion it could be a cavity, we don't expect to see that, but that's something we'll look for in the test," said Staib.
The positive results seem concerning, but when you consider that 15 percent of the general population has the TB germ and doesn't show any signs of an active case, it proves the disease can be fought.
"The body does and excellent job with it's immune system of sequestering if you will the TB germ making a module around it or a knot around it and it goes away," said Staib.
Those who might show signs of an active case will undergo six to nine months of medicated treatment to eradicate the disease.
"There's a 10-percent chance within someone's lifetime if they're infected with TB that they'll develop active TB and that's the reason why we provide preventative medication for the latent TB infections," said Staib.
Once a person tests positive for the TB germ, they'll always test positive for TB whether they have an active case or not.
Health District officials tell us the treatment for active TB can be dangerous itself. The medication is toxic and patients must be monitored closely for possible damage to the liver or other vital organs.