Dozens Tested in TB Scare at Laurens County Jail - WSPA.com

Dozens Tested in TB Scare at Laurens County Jail

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Dozens of inmates and jail staff in Laurens County are waiting to find out if they’ve been exposed to tuberculosis. Dozens of inmates and jail staff in Laurens County are waiting to find out if they’ve been exposed to tuberculosis.
LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. -

Update: August 8th, 2013, 12:30 pm

The Department of Health and Environmental Control says a second round of tests are being read Thursday to see if any inmates or jail staff in Laurens County were exposed to tuberculosis.

Mark Plowden, Communications Director with DHEC, says the second round of tests does not mean any of them tested positive.  Plowden says a contact investigation must spread to cover the necessary individuals as they become known, but he says they don't expect to find anything.

Plowden says 62 tests have been completed.

August 6th, 2013

Dozens of inmates and jail staff in Laurens County are waiting to find out if they've been exposed to tuberculosis.

State health officials say one inmate at the Johnson Detention Facility in Laurens tested positive for TB bacteria in a routine screening.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control has given 45 skin tests for TB to inmate and staff members at the jail.

So far no one has conclusively tested positive for the disease, although there are still several test results DHEC hasn't been able to read yet.

Jail Administrator Chris Hudson said his facility is using an abundance of caution.

"The biggest thing is I want to make sure people are safe and nobody has any exposure at all to TB," said Hudson.

DHEC said it all started when an inmate tried to work in the jail's kitchen.

"Medical would administer the PPD or TB test. And then once that's read, then they would be allowed to work in the kitchen or not," said Hudson.

The results of that inmate's skin test for TB prompted DHEC to launch the contact investigation.

If an inmate has a positive skin test, it's protocol for the inmate to then get a chest X-ray, and eventually a CT scan.

"We always want to make sure that we're doing everything that we can to decrease any exposure to any disease, or illness or sickness. So therefore, if it requires us to put an inmate in isolation, then that's what we need to do," said Hudson.

Hudson said some of the people waiting to hear back about their results are now out of jail and back in the community. DHEC has their contact information so the agency can reach out to those people if there is a concern.

The jail's TB scare comes in the wake of an outbreak at Ninety Six Primary School in Greenwood County, where DHEC is facing backlash for waiting months before testing students who came in contact with someone who was infected. Dozens tested positive for exposure.

According to DHEC, tuberculosis is a germ that is spread through the air by sneezing, coughing or talking. You cannot catch TB by eating or drinking after someone.

TB is spread through the air by someone who has TB disease. If you're infected, it doesn't mean you have the disease. If you breathe the TB germs into your lungs, do not feel sick and cannot spread it to others, then you have TB infection. If you breathe the TB germs into your lungs and get sick, then you have TB disease.

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