66 King County Jail inmates screened for tuberculosis


A prisoner with infectious TB came in contact with other inmates and staff between Nov. 20 and March 1.

Bob Young

Sixty-six inmates in the King County Jail system are being screened for tuberculosis after an inmate was diagnosed with infectious TB.

The infected inmate came in contact with other inmates and staff between Nov. 20, when he was admitted to the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, and March 1, when he was determined to be infectious, said a spokesman for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

The inmate has been receiving antibiotic treatment in the jail infirmary, said spokesman James Apa, and is not at risk of infecting others.

Public-health officials are figuring out which staff members were exposed enough to the infected inmate to require screening, Apa said. There is no indication at this point, he said, that staff were infected.

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Unlike flu, TB is not transmitted by touching tables and other objects that an infected person has touched. It typically takes repeated and prolonged exposure in confined space to become infected, Apa said. Even in households with a contagious TB case, only about 1 in 3 close household contacts become infected.

Treatment for infectious TB takes up to nine months. A patient may be no longer infectious before the end of treatment, but he or she must complete the entire course to be cured.

TB usually affects the lungs, but it can impact lymph nodes, bones, joints and other parts of the body, Apa said.

In King County, 98 new cases of TB disease were reported in 2015. On average, two cases of TB disease are diagnosed in King County each week.

To learn more about signs, symptoms and transmission of TB, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s TB website.

A patient was diagnosed with TB at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center earlier this year. No other active cases were discovered there, Apa said.



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