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Testing urged after health worker at Oakland/Macomb clinics diagnosed with TB

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

A health care worker at Lakeview Pediatrics clinics in Macomb Township, Rochester and St. Clair Shores has been diagnosed with an active pulmonary tuberculosis infection — and people who visited the practices since April should be tested for TB, public health authorities announced Thursday.

The infected employee worked at the clinics between April 1 and Jan. 9 while unknowingly sick with the contagious disease, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release.

State health officials are working with the Macomb and Oakland county health departments to identify patients or family members who may have come into contact with the worker so they can be tested. 

“TB is a treatable bacterial disease that is spread through the air from one person to another,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Pulmonary tuberculosis is a highly contagious lung infection that spreads through the air when a person with TB talks, sneezes or coughs. It can be fatal if left untreated. 

“TB is a treatable bacterial disease that is spread through the air from one person to another,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “While the infection can be serious, not everyone who is exposed to TB will be infected, and many people who are infected never develop symptoms.”

Ascension Medical Group Michigan has set up a call center for scheduling tests and responding to questions. The call center is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. It can be reached by calling 855-757-4376.

The worker diagnosed with pulmonary TB is receiving treatment and is not currently working, according to the press release. All associates and providers at the practice have been tested and do not have active TB disease.  

Not all people with TB are contagious, the press release noted. Some people have "latent" TB, meaning the bacteria are in their bodies but they are not sick.

TB disease, which the worker at Lakeview Pediatrics was diagnosed with, are actively sick and can spread the bacteria to other people through the air. 

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 9,025 new cases of TB disease in the United States, of which 108 cases were reported from Michigan.

State health officials noted that TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs but can attack any part of the body such as the spine, brain or kidneys.

Symptoms can include a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, chest pain, coughing up blood or phlegm, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, chills, fever or night sweats.

For more information about TB, visit Michigan.gov/tb or cdc.gov/tb. 

Kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN