Chief Deputy Tom Caldwell said Monday that an inmate has tested positive for TB and the results have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Public health officials say it takes as long as
eight weeks to officially confirm a TB diagnosis, and they are watching the situation closely.
“When medical tests and symptoms suggest the possibility of TB,” said Dr. Wade Sellers, director of the Northwest Georgia Public Health District, “we proceed out of an abundance of caution and act on the assumption the person is ill with a contagious disease, in this case tuberculosis. This caution continues until a diagnosis is confirmed or not. If confirmed, medical treatment and protection of others continues until the risks have been removed.”
The task now is finding out who had close contact with the inmate.
“If we believe anyone should be tested for TB because of health concerns as a result of this particular situation, the Floyd County Health Department will contact them,” said Logan Boss, a spokesman for the health district. “Floyd County Jail officials may elect, for entirely legitimate reasons of their own, to conduct additional testing beyond what public health determines is necessary.”
Caldwell said they will be testing all staff since the staff has not been tested in a few years. He said he didn’t know how much the tests cost.
Sellers said the jail followed the proper steps when staff suspected the inmate had TB. But he emphasized that a positive TB test doesn’t mean the person will come down with an active case of TB.
“A positive test does not mean that a person has an active case of TB, only that they have been exposed to the germ at sometime in their lifetime,” Sellers said. “Lots of people are exposed to the TB germ but do not become ill with the disease.”
Persons with TB infection — but not active disease — have no symptoms and are not contagious to others, Sellers added.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that usually attacks the lungs, but it can also affect the kidney, spine and brain, according to the CDC. If not treated properly, it can be fatal. TB is spread through the air, often when a person with TB coughs or sneezes, according to the CDC.
Floyd County Sheriff's Office