Not only does the general public need to worry about COVID-19 and all its variants, but it has to keep up its guard on other health issues, as well. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported yesterday that an unidentified person who was present at Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, CA, last year has been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). This may have led to “hundreds” of guests and workers being exposed.
TB Exposure Could Lead to Outbreak
The exposure occurred between April 1 and December 9 of last year. Officials from the casino are now working with the HHSA to notify anyone who may have been exposed. It isn’t clear if the individual was a guest or an employee; however, the window of exposure suggests it may have been an employee.
TB can be transmitted from one person to another through prolonged exposure to infectious persons. However, in this case, the spread of the disease may have been mitigated. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions like social distancing, masks and divider walls at the casino, patrons were exposed to a reduced risk.
Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the San Diego County deputy public health officer, stated that while many people who have been exposed to TB don’t become infected, some may. He added, “Although we don’t think this is a high-risk exposure, testing is recommended for employees who may have been exposed to the infected individual for a significant period of time.”
TB a Problem in San Diego
Infectious TB symptoms include persistent cough, fever, night sweats, and unexplained weight gain. Those with symptoms of TB or those who have immune-compromised symptoms should see their doctor to get tested for the disease. The disease can often be treated with a long-term course of antibiotics.
It is common in San Diego to contract tuberculosis. Although the number of cases has declined since the 1990s, they have stabilized in recent decades. The county reported 192 cases in 2020. Although the final numbers of cases last year have not been released, there were at least 164 reported last year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It attacks the lungs most often, but can also attack other parts of the body like the spine, kidneys or the brain. However, not everyone who is infected by TB bacteria gets sick.
Two TB-related conditions are possible: latent TB infections (LTBI) or TB disease. TB disease, if not treated correctly, can lead to death. The CDC adds that around 3% of those with untreated TB will die.