Case of tuberculosis identified in Allen County

May 9th, 2018

Health Dept. testing those who may have had contact, stresses this is a routine infectious disease investigation

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (05/09/2018)
– The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health is conducting a routine investigation of a case of active tuberculosis (TB).  The Department is working closely with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and involved entities to do everything necessary to ensure the patient is receiving appropriate treatment and to prevent any additional cases from occurring.

The Health Department identified through its contact investigation that residents, employees, and volunteers of the Rescue Mission, located at 301 W. Superior Street, may have been exposed to the case.  The Department notified those individuals in a timely manner.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Health Department is offering free TB skin testing for residents, employees, and volunteers who were at The Rescue Mission over the past year.  TB testing was offered Monday at The Rescue Mission.  Individuals who visited The Charis House or The Treasure House DO NOT need to receive testing.

The Rescue Mission has been very cooperative in working with the Health Department.  The Rescue Mission provides free TB testing to their residents monthly along with other health services.

TB isn’t an unusual infectious disease to find in Allen County and many other communities across the nation.  In 2016, there were 17 cases of active TB in Allen County.  In 2017, there were 6 cases.

“Infectious disease identification, treatment and containment are important public health activities that we perform every day,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan said, “At any given time we are investigating 10 or more potential infectious disease exposures.  Some investigations are big in scope and some can be closed in a day or so – but all represent the fact that we live in an environment that is filled with microbes that can cause issues, which we try and mitigate as quickly as possible.  Our current investigations are no different.”

The Health Department has also set up a TB hotline for people with questions or for those who were unable to receive TB skin testing on Monday and need to schedule a different time for testing. The phone number is (260) 449-4499.  The hotline is operational Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

TB Background

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium. Although TB infection can occur anywhere in the body, it usually is found in the lungs. In most cases, TB is treatable; however, persons with TB can die if they do not get proper treatment.

TB is spread the same way that cold and flu viruses are spread: through the air. Whenever someone with active TB sneezes, coughs, or spits, the bacteria is released into the air. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. TB is not spread by kissing, shaking hands or touching objects such as bed linens or toilet seats. It usually requires close contact over a period of time.

Even if someone is infected with TB bacteria, it does not mean the person will get active TB disease. Most people who become infected do not develop active TB disease because their body’s defenses protect them.  Only people with symptoms of active TB disease can spread the disease to others.

The general symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. The symptoms of TB disease of the lungs may also include coughing, chest pain, and coughing up blood. Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. People who feel strongly that they may have been infected with TB, recently or many years ago, should contact their primary care physician.