TB evaluation at Seattle supportive housing

Click on infographic to learn more about TB in King County

Public Health – Seattle & King County is following up on a person at 1811 Eastlake who was diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB). Public Health is working with DESC, which operates 1811 Eastlake supportive housing, to determine whether others have contracted TB from exposure to this person. TB is an infectious disease, but it’s much harder to spread than the cold or flu.

More details on the evaluation

This week, Public Health will be screening at least 65 current residents of 1811 Eastlake. Screening includes having a TB skin test placed, then having it read two days later for a skin reaction.Evaluation of the person diagnosed with active TB disease suggests the potential of spread to others is low, but because of the residents’ underlying medical conditions, we are taking careful steps to screen them all. In addition, at least 15 staff members will be evaluated.

Treatment for TB

The person with active TB disease is currently receiving treatment, and is not currently a risk for infecting others. Most cases of TB are readily treatable with antibiotics that are commonly available. To become cured, a patient must complete the entire treatment, even after they are no longer infectious. If the treatment is interrupted before the bacteria are completely eliminated, TB can develop drug-resistance and become much harder to treat. Learn more about TB drug resistance here.

More about TB

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by TB bacteria that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but can affect lymph nodes, bones, joints, and other parts of the body. A person with active TB in the lungs can spread the disease by coughing or sneezing. 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.

Unlike active TB disease, people with latent (or dormant) TB infection can’t spread it to others and are not ill with the disease. Approximately 100,000 people in King County have latent TB infection. While they aren’t contagious now, they could potentially have active TB in the future and also infect others.

Approximately five percent of newly infected contacts of a person with active TB develop active TB disease themselves within two years. An additional five percent become ill at some point over the remainder of their lives. Ninety percent of people with latent TB infection never develop active TB disease.

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

TB program protects the community

Public Health – Seattle & King County’s TB Control Program ensures that people with active TB are diagnosed and cured, and that others in contact with them who are at highest risk of infection are screened, so that infections do not spread.  This essential public health work improves the community’s health and saves money by controlling the spread of TB, preventing outbreaks, and preventing the development of multi-drug resistant TB that can be very expensive to treat.

TB is a global threat, with over two million deaths every year, as people in many parts of the world do not have access to treatment and effective TB control programs like we do in the United States. Because we are at a global crossroads in King County, we need to be constantly vigilant to prevent the spread of TB.