A tuberculosis case was reported at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego, prompting officials to notify and offer tests to all people who may have been exposed over a five-month window, according to news reports on Nov. 2, 2021.
“Testing is recommended for people who were exposed to assure they are not infected, since initial infection usually has no symptoms,” said San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, according to the City News Service. “For any infected individuals, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent the infectious form of the disease.”
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacteria that targets the lungs. It transmits through tiny infectious droplets coughed or sneezed into the air in similar fashion as COVID. Most people exposed to TB, however, do not become infected and it often requires prolonged exposure with an infected individual to develop the disease, according to reporting by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
TB symptoms include persistent coughing, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It can be treated and cured with antibiotics, according to health officials, although permanent damage can result from serious, untreated infections.
Health officials noted that a negative TB test typically means that a person is not infected. However, since it may take eight to 10 weeks after an
infectious exposure for a test to be positive, retesting may be needed. TB is not uncommon in southern California, but reported cases have been generally declining since the early 1990s, according to City News Service.
Federal prisons guidelines specify that all newly arrived detainees be screened and tested for TB, according to reporting by the Union-Tribune. Medical staff at California state prisons screen new arrivals and test incarcerated people annually for TB.
Incarcerated persons with TB-like or COVID-like symptoms should submit a 7362 form to be seen by a medical provider.