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Post Office employee contracts TB

Dec. 18, 2014 at 10:45 p.m.
Updated Dec. 19, 2014 at 8:46 a.m.

A Victoria postal worker was recently diagnosed with an infectious disease, which makes it the first case of tuberculosis this year in the county.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another but officials assure this doesn't cause a significant health risk to the public.

The U.S. Postal Service is monitoring the situation and following the state health department's advice and protocol, said spokesman Sam Bolen.

The Postal Service was informed by the state that an employee at the James Moody Station Post Office, 2804 Sam Houston Drive, was diagnosed with TB and is being treated in a Victoria hospital, he said.

On Wednesday, the Postal Service briefed all employees who may have been in contact with the infected employee with information on the signs and symptoms of TB.

Bolen said local union officials were also briefed.

"There has been no indication of any contamination of the mail," he said. "Customers using the James Moody Station for P.O. Box or retail services are in no danger of exposure."

"Concerned Postal Service customers in Victoria may contact their local City-County Health Department," Bolen said.

While the Texas Department of State Health Services can't confirm any patient details there was one TB case reported in Victoria County earlier this month, according to spokeswoman Christine Mann.

This was the only case reported in 2014.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TB germs are passed when someone who is sick with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, laughs, sings or sneezes and someone near the sick person breathes TB germs into their lungs.

These germs can live in a person's body without making that person sick. These inactive germs cannot be passed to anyone else.

However, if these germs become active and multiply, that person will get sick with TB disease.

When TB germs are active and multiplying in the body, this is called TB disease. These germs usually attack the lungs but can also attack the kidneys, brain or spine.

Dr. Bain Cate, director of the Victoria City-County Health Department, said he cannot comment on TB cases because it is confidential patient information.

Cate, however, confirmed that the spread of tuberculosis means a person must have had close contact with a patient who was coughing for two or more hours per day to even be considered at risk.

He said in the past decade he has managed TB patients, the closest contacts, even those that share a bed, are tested and often do not have the disease.

The CDC advises that a person cannot get TB from someone's clothes, drinking glass, eating utensils, handshake, toilet or other surfaces where a TB patient has been.

There are two tests to help detect a TB infection - a TB skin test or a TB blood test.

In a skin test, used most often, a small needle puts some testing material called tuberculin under the skin. In two to three days, you return to the health care worker who will check to see if there is a reaction to the test.

In some cases, a TB blood test is used to test for TB infection, which measures how a person's immune system reacts to the germs that cause TB.

To tell if someone has the disease, a chest X-ray and a sample of phlegm that is coughed up from deep in the lungs may be needed.

For more information, go to dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/tb or contact the city-county health department at 361-578-6281.


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