Douglas County testing for tuberculosis after out-of-state visitor found to be infected

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT)-- An out-of-state visitor with tuberculosis, also known as TB, was in Douglas County recently, the county confirmed Wednesday.

Officials with the Douglas County Health Department said they were told at the end of December there was a person who was visiting from another state that had tuberculosis, also known as TB.

So far, the Health Department said, it has tested 31 people the person with TB came into close contact with, such as living in the same residence as opposed to visiting the same store or attending school with an infected person. Of those 31, one person tested positive for TB, and 13 others were found to have a latent TB infection.

The current cases do not constitute an outbreak, said Dr. Anne O’Keefe with the Health Department, noting the department is still investigating, so those numbers could still go up.

“If we identify more people, we'll test them; and if any of the contacts test positive, then we start that process again and see," O’Keefe said. "It’s called like a 'ring contact' investigation — we expand as needed."

Tuberculosis is "pretty rare, especially in Nebraska," O’Keefe said.

There were eight confirmed TB cases last year.

"TB is spread by airborne transmission," she said. "The germ can float in the air for quite a while, but you have to be exposed to it for quite a while to be infected."

Symptoms can vary based on which organ is infected, but if it's in your lungs, you may experience night sweats and coughing, O'Keefe said.

A vaccine exists for TB but is not used in the U.S. as there are so few cases reported, she said.