ADPH asking poultry workers to be screened for tuberculosis

The Alabama Department of Public Health is asking anyone who is working or has worked in the poultry industry in Franklin, Lawrence, Colbert and Lauderdale counties since June, 2022, to be screened for tuberculosis.
ADPH put out a press release Monday, July 31, explaining the need for the screenings, stating that between June, 2022, and July 31, 2023, seven cases of confirmed or suspected tuberculosis have been identified in individuals who have worked in one or more poultry plants.
“The cases in this outbreak have not been limited to any individual race or ethnic group,”  Dr. Wes Stubblefield, district medical officer for the northern district of the Alabama Department of Public Health, stated in the press release.
As with any identified cases of TB in the state, ADPH is implementing precautionary testing, investigation and control measures.  Testing is done by a blood test and will be available on the following dates:

Thursday, Aug. 17: Franklin County Health Department, 801 County Highway 43, Russellville, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.;
Monday, Aug. 14:  Lawrence County Health Department, 13299 Highway 157, Moulton, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 10:  Colbert County Health Department, 1000 S. Jackson Highway, Sheffield, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Monday, August 7, and Wednesday, August 9:  Lauderdale County Health Department, 4112 Chisholm Road, Florence, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

For each eligible individual who completes the testing, a $20 gift card will be offered.
Tuberculosis is a type of bacteria usually spread from one infected person’s lungs to another person through activities such as talking or coughing.  Tuberculosis is NOT transmitted in food, according to the press release.
A TB infection comes in three stages, with different symptoms at each stage, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.  The stages are:

• Primary TB infection.  Primary TB is the first stage.  A person’s immune system’s cells find and capture  the germs.  If any of the bacteria survives after being attacked by a person’s immune system, it will multiply.  During primary infection, most people don’t have symptoms, but some people may experience flu-like symptoms, including low fever, tiredness and cough.

• Latent TB infection.  Primary infection is usually followed by latent TB.  Here, the immune system cells build walls around lung tissue with TB germs.  The germs are not killed, but they cannot harm the person if the immune system keeps them under control.

• Active TB disease.  Active TB disease occurs when a person’s immune system cannot control the infection.  Germs cause disease throughout the lungs and other parts of the body.  Active TB can happen right after primary infection, but normally happens after months or even years of latent TB infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms of active TB disease in the lungs typically begin gradually or worsen over a few weeks.  They may include:

• cough
• coughing up blood or mucus
• chest pain
• pain with breathing or coughing
• fever
• chills
• night sweats
• weight loss
• loss of appetite
• fatigue
• general feeling of being unwell.

Active TB disease can spread outside the lungs.  Common sites where it can occur are the kidneys, liver, fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, heart muscles, genitals, lymph nodes, bones and joints, skin, walls of blood vessels and larynx.  The symptoms are the same as when it is in the lungs, along with pain at the site of the infection.
“People infected with TB can be very sick or may have no symptoms,”  Stubblefield said.
According to the Mayo Clinic, certain living or working conditions make it easier for the disease to pass from one person to another, including living or working in places where people are close together.
“As people who work in these plants are frequently in close contact with one another, the Alabama Department of Public Health cautions that these individuals may have been or currently be at risk for contracting TB,”  Stubblefield said.
Persons with weakened immune systems due to diabetes, severe kidney disease, certain cancers, smokers or misuse of alcohol may be at higher risk of contracting active TB disease.  Also, children under 5, children and young adults ages 15-25 and adults 65 and older  are at an increased risk of more serious complications from the disease, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
ADPH says that TB is treated using antibiotics and, in most cases, is cured.
For more information, call the Franklin County Health Department at (256) 332-2700 or the Lawrence County Health Department at (256) 974-1141.


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