Officials work to educate public about TB

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Sparked by the recent news of a DairiConcepts employee who contracted tuberculosis, health and public safety officials are working to educate and promote awareness of the disease in the community.

Community Resources executive director Terry Teti, is working to put in place a plan that encourages employers to requires employees and prospective employees to provide proof of adult immunization records and proof of updated TB testing, she said.

“That minimizes the spread of communicable diseases in our community,” Teti said.
TB is a relatively rare disease in New Mexico, according to Chris Minnick, regional public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Health. In 2005, there were 39 reported cases of TB, which equaled a rate of 2 cases per 100,000 people Minnick said.

Though it can be transmitted to humans via livestock, it is a rare event. Normally transmission occurs from human to human, Minnick said.

“We have more human to human contact cases versus livestock to human cases,” Minnick said.

Teti emphasizes she is not picking on any business in particular, but merely trying to prevent the possible outbreak or spread of the disease. She also states that the requirements of providing proof of testing or immunization would not be grounds for an employee to be fired or to pry into their private life, Teti said.

Caught early, TB can be treated with a drug regiment. The treatments can last anywhere from six to nine months, Minnick said.

A simple skin test can determine weather a person has been exposed to the disease or infected person. If a person tests positive, treatment should begin immediately, Minnick said.

“The treatment will depend on the case,” said Minnick.