Tuberculosis tracking in San Diego County leads to College of Continuing Education

Students, staff and employees have been potentially exposed to tuberculosis on campus

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The county's Tuberculosis Program is working with the San Diego College of Continuing Education Wednesday to notify students, employees and staff that they were potentially exposed to and are at risk for tuberculosis.

The possible exposure occurred at the Cesar E. Chavez campus from Nov. 27, 2023, to Feb. 29, 2024 on weekdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., primarily in the computer lab in room 307, the county reported. Because TB can linger in the air for several hours, people who used the computer lab later in the afternoons may also be at risk.

Notifications on this possible exposure come one day after the county's Tuberculosis Program began working with the Metropolitan Transit System to notify Blue Line trolley riders of their potential exposure and risk for tuberculosis.

What is tuberculosis?

TB is an airborne disease that is transmitted from person-to-person through inhalation of the bacteria from the air. People with frequent and prolonged indoor exposure to a person who is sick with TB should get tested.

"Symptoms of active TB include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss," Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer, said in a statement.

"Most people who become infected after exposure to tuberculosis do not get sick right away. This is called latent TB infection. Some who become infected with tuberculosis will become ill in the future, sometimes even years later if their latent TB infection is not treated. Blood tests and skin tests are effective in determining whether someone has been infected."

Taking medicines for latent TB infection can cure the infection and keep people from ever getting active TB disease.

Tuberculosis in San Diego County

An estimated 175,000 people in San Diego County have a latent TB infection and 5% to 10% of these are at risk for developing active TB without preventive treatment, health officials said. People who test positive for TB, but who do not have symptoms of active TB, should get a chest X-ray and talk to a medical provider, as they may likely have a latent TB infection.

According to the county, the chance of TB infection is highest for people with many hours of cumulative indoor exposure to a person who is sick with TB.

The County TB Control Program recorded 193 TB cases in the county in 2020, 201 people in 2021 and 208 people in 2022. In 2023, the county recorded 243 people with active TB disease.

In the early 1990s, more than 400 cases were reported annually.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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