Tuberculosis scare at local poultry plant - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Tuberculosis scare at local poultry plant

A number of people who work at the Wayne Farms Chicken Plant in Decatur have been undergoing testing for tuberculosis. So what are the results of those tests?

The numbers are confusing because of the type of disease we're talking about.

Tuberculosis can be seen in two very different forms and sometimes that can unnecessarily cause a panic.

Judy Smith said, "In this case we tested aproximately 200 people."

That testing is called a ring investigation. It involves talking to people in the patient's inner and outer circles. Other people wanted to be tested as a precautionary measure.

"Of that, we had about 25% were positive. There were 45 positive," adds Smith. 

Those people were told by health officials the positive reading is to a skin test, only. That doesn't mean they have an active lung infected type of the disease.

In fact, health officials say chances are they are probably not contagious. Doctors say people should know if they test positive.

Dr. Penot continues, "the trick is if you have latent tuberculosis, you have it indefinitely. The initial infection, so you are always going to test positive, even if you have cleared the infection."

So does that mean that if you were exposed to TB previously and still test positive with the skin test, you could pass it on to someone else?

Dr. Penot contends, "those people with latent tuberculosis are not infective. Ok, they're not going to spread the disease."

He says those who would be contagious are those with the more serious, active TB.

Symptoms include coughing up blood, or fever would drive that patient to medical care.

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