County health officials confirmed a diagnosis of infectious pulmonary tuberculosis in a San Diego International Airport employee Friday but stressed that the risk of public exposure is considerably low.
Officials with the county Health and Human Services Agency determined the potential exposure period to be Jan. 1 to May 29 in an area of the airport that the public cannot access. County health officials also found no evidence of the disease being transmitted from the employee to any close contacts.
County officials said they are in the process of notifying employees of Southwest Airlines, G2 Secure Staff LCC and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority about the possible exposure. Affected employees were being advised to talk to their employers for more information.
“In most cases, a person has to be in close contact with someone who has TB for a long period of time to be at risk for getting TB,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the county’s interim deputy public health officer. “In this case the employee does not spend significant time in any given area, had minimal close contact with employees and contact with members of the public was limited to short periods of time.”
Tuberculosis is generally transmitted through the air or via contact with an infected person. Roughly one-third of those exposed to the bacterial disease will develop it, according to the HHSA, but most avoid infection. Tuberculosis symptoms can include a persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplainable weight loss.
Due to the low risk of exposure, county health officials did not indicate that they plan to offer testing to airport staff. However, Sidelinger advised residents to be aware of the disease’s symptoms and seek early treatment when applicable.
Residents can contact the county’s tuberculosis control program at 619- 692-8621 or visit the program’s website at sandiegocounty.gov/hhsa/programs/phs/tuberculosis_control_program for more information on the disease.
–City News Service
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