TB outbreak causes SWAT-like response

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Tuberculosis can be inhaled into the lungs when someone nearby with the disease coughs, sneezes, sings or laughs, according to health officials.
Tuberculosis can be inhaled into the lungs when someone nearby with the disease coughs, sneezes, sings or laughs, according to health officials.

A tuberculosis outbreak, affecting more than 600 individuals at one Delaware nursing home, recently put providers in an all-hands-on-deck situation.

Public health officials said that exposure spread from one individual at ManorCare Health Services-Wilmington and occurred during a nine-month period starting in January 2017. In response, health officials quickly coordinated with neighboring agencies, since 35 former residents and staff member now live in seven other states.

The Division of Public Health provided free screenings and treatment to former residents, and set up a call center to address inquiries. If left untreated, TB can be life-threatening, though state officials noted that it is on the decline across the U.S., with 9,600 cases nationwide in 2015. The disease is treatable, they note, typically by taking several medications.

Spokeswoman Kelly Kessler said ManorCare has taken steps to limit risk to its employees and residents.

“We continue to work closely with local healthcare authorities and feel there is no risk at the center,” she told McKnight's in May.

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