Riverside County health officials Friday were reaching out to individuals who may have come into contact with a Kaiser Permanente-Moreno Valley employee suffering from active tuberculosis, advising those who receive letters to obtain TB screenings.
According to the Department of Public Health, the patient is an employee of the hospital’s oncology clinic and was confirmed ill in recent weeks. The worker, whose identity was not disclosed, is in recovery, health officials said.
Kaiser patients and staff who may have been exposed are being sent notices regarding the TB case, with a recommendation that they be screened for the disease. Nearly 450 letters have been sent in the last two days, according to the health department.
“While the risk of infection is low, it’s important those receiving the notification letter get tested,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer. “The testing is quick and can provide peace of mind.”
TB screening begins with a cursory skin test. If that turns up positive, the person is asked to take a chest X-ray to confirm infection.
Tuberculosis is spread through coughing, sneezing, singing or speaking. Infection generally requires prolonged or repeated exposure to the TB patient. People cannot be infected through hand-shaking, kissing or handling bedding and toilet seats, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials noted that some people can be infected with TB without manifesting symptoms, which include fever, coughing, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and chest pain. Those with inactive TB are typically not infectious.
The health department recorded 65 tuberculosis cases in 2018, and 40 individuals have been diagnosed with TB so far this year countywide.
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