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By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

July 19, 2019 (San Diego) - An employee at the San Diego International Airport has been diagnosed with infectious pulmonary tuberculosis but poses an extremely low exposure risk to the public and staff at the airport, according to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency officials.

"The period of possible exposure was from January 1 to May 29 and took place mainly in an area that is not accessible to the public. Preliminary testing of all close contacts to the case shows no evidence of transmission."

“In most cases, a person has to be in close contact with someone who has TB for a long period of time to be at risk for getting TB,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., interim County deputy public health officer. “In this case the employee does not spend significant time in any given area, had minimal close contact with employees and contact with members of the public was limited to short periods of time.”

Employees who work for Southwest Airlines, G2 Secure Staff, LLC or the Airport Authority are being notified about this potential exposure and are being directed to contact their employers for additional information.

“Symptoms of active TB include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss, but most people infected with TB do not have symptoms,” said Sidelinger. “While this exposure does not constitute a risk to the general public, early treatment can prevent progression to the infectious form of the disease, so it is important for people at risk of developing TB to get tested and treated if needed.”

To know more about your risk, you may access the San Diego Tuberculosis Risk Assessment Tool and review it with your medical provider. Additional information can be found on the HHSA Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health website.

Members of the general public or medical providers who would like further information are asked to call County TB Control Program at (619) 692-8621.

The number of annual TB cases in San Diego County has decreased since the early 1990s and has stabilized in recent years. There were 258 cases reported in 2016 and 237 in 2017 and 226 cases were reported in 2018.

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