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By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

Image Credit: CDC.gov

November 15, 2019 (San Diego) - Three unrelated cases of tuberculosis have been reported in the region, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced today.

Two cases were reported at San Diego County Sheriff’s detention facilities and the third was a person who arrived from out of town after being diagnosed and spent time at the City of San Diego bridge shelter, which serves single adults who are homeless.

HHSA is working with the Sheriff’s Department to notify people who were possibly exposed to tuberculosis by two people at its facilities. The periods of potential exposures are as follows:

  • Aug. 20 to Sept. 6, 2019 at the San Diego Central Jail Detention Facility
  • Sept. 6 to Sept. 15, 2019 at the George Bailey Detention Facility
  • Oct. 16 to Oct. 18, 2019 at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility

The Sheriff’s Department is offering free testing for Sheriff staff and all identified people in custody. HHSA’s TB Control Program is testing, at no-cost, all identified people who do not have a medical provider.

HHSA is also working with City of San Diego officials, the San Diego Housing Commission—which administers the contract for the bridge shelter— and the Alpha Project, which operates the facility, to notify people who were potentially exposed. The period of exposure at the shelter was:

  • Aug. 20, 2019 to Sept. 9, 2019 at the 16th St. and Newton Ave. bridge shelter

Investigation results determined the individual was diagnosed in Long Beach, but left the hospital without permission, eventually arriving in San Diego where they passed away from co-occurring medical conditions at a local hospital on Oct. 6, 2019. At this time, there has been no confirmed TB exposure at any of the other City of San Diego bridge shelters.

HHSA’s Tuberculosis Control Program is offering no-cost testing for shelter volunteers and residents from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 at the shelter.

TB is transmitted from person to person through indoor air during prolonged contact with an infectious individual. Most people who are exposed do not become infected.

“Testing is recommended for people who were exposed to assure they are not infected, since initial infection usually has no symptoms,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “For any infected individuals, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent the infectious form of the disease.”

Symptoms of active TB disease include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss. For people with symptoms of tuberculosis, or those with compromised immune systems and who may not show symptoms, it is important that the person sees their medical provider to rule out tuberculosis. Tuberculosis can be treated and cured with antibiotics.

The number of annual TB cases in San Diego County has decreased since the early 1990s and has stabilized in recent years. There were 237 cases reported in 2017 and 226 in 2018. To date, 179 cases have been reported in 2019.

People who would like more information on this potential exposure are asked to call:

  • San Diego County TB Control Program at (619) 692-8621
  • Sheriff’s Department Infection Control at (858) 974-5971


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