Police deal with TB scare - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Police deal with TB scare

May 9, 2008

Pelham--It started as a routine day at B & W package store in Pelham. But the manager says that changed quickly when mid-afternoon a man walked into the store.  "Shop-lifted a bottle of liquor.  After he was caught, the police were called," explained Tony West, co-owner and manager of B & W.

When police arrived the man said he was feeling faint.  "He actually asked for a glass of water and after he drank the water he. . . passed out you might say," said West. 

"At that time the officer called for first-responder and EMS because anytime we have a person that's sick that's what we do," said Captain Linda Colimon with the Pelham Police Department.   When EMS began working on the man, he told them he had tuberculosis.

"It started out as a little scare like he was contagious and the first thing people going to do is panic when they hear TB you know," said Colimon.   But after the initial scare, police say emergency workers quickly went into action.  "They responded and checked him out and found out he wasn't in the contagious stage or anything. Checked the health department and found out it wasn't true," Colimon said.   She says people often claim to have contagious diseases to try and get out of being put in jail.

The store manager wonders what would have happened if this man had been contagious.  "I think they were scared to take him in because he said he had TB but I feel like they should have some accommodations some sort of isolation to put people that have diseases like that.  Obviously if it was a worse crime they'd have to take him in and what would they do?" asked West.

But Colimon said, "The health department would have notified us and we would have gone ahead and got that person to the right place to be able to be taken care of."

 Thankfully, this case turned out not to be a life-threatening situation.  Because of his claim to have TB, the man was not arrested but officers did charge him with shoplifting. 

Tuberculosis is a common and deadly infectious disease One-third of the world's current population has been infected by TB, and new infections occur at a rate of one per second.


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