Two cases of tuberculosis in Tunica

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2014

Two active cases of tuberculosis have been reported by the Mississippi State Department of Health at two Tunica casinos.

Both cases involved casino employees, who are no longer at the casinos, according to a press release from the Department of Health. The MSDH is working with the casinos to identify anyone who may have been in close contact with those individuals.

“This is typical protocol for any TB investigation we do in Mississippi. Once we detect a case of active TB, we identify close contacts of the case, perform testing to identify those who are potentially infected, and begin their treatment immediately,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs in the release. “No individuals from the general public have been identified as close contacts, and we have absolutely no reason to believe there has been transmission to any of the casino patrons. In fact, because of ventilation systems in these facilities, a casino is one of the least likely locations for transmission through casual contact.”

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“Both casinos have been incredibly cooperative and proactive in handling this situation,” he said in the release. “We’ve been able to quickly arrange testing for employees at both of the casinos involved.”

The names of the individuals or casinos were not provided in the release.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is transmitted through the air, the release states.

Sixty-five cases were confirmed in Mississippi last year and the release states that the state’s case rate is less than the national average.

Persons at greater risk of contracting the disease include those with HIV or other conditions that affect the immune system, the release states. Other people at high risk include those with diabetes, smokers, people undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or any kind of immunosuppressive therapy.

While some drug-resistant strains are difficult to treat, tuberculosis is treatable and curable and typically takes between 12 weeks to nine months, depending on the drugs used, the release states.