DHEC: Of 58 TB infections, 8 children have disease - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

DHEC: Of 58 TB infections, 8 children have disease

NINETY SIX, SC (FOX Carolina) -

After revealing that 58 people tested positive for the tuberculosis infection, state health officials said Tuesday that eight of those children also tested positive for the disease.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control held a meeting in Ninety Six on Tuesday where they released further details about the ongoing investigation and treatment of TB in the area.

While eight children tested positive for the disease, DHEC Director Catherine Templeton said they are not contagious because of their age.

DHEC's TB and infectious disease consultant Dr. Richard Ervin said the children will undergo several months of treatment for the disease while those who tested positive for the infection will also undergo preventative treatment.

Templeton also explained why it took so long for officials to step in to handle the original disease host's case.

DHEC nurses were "tenacious" in their efforts to report the TB case to their higher-ups, but the higher-ups in Greenwood County failed to report the issues they were having with the patient to DHEC, Templeton said.

Templeton said the "index case" had the disease for many months but was not cooperative with nurses. She said while the person did not necessarily lie, information was withheld from officials. She said they found out as late as Monday night about more people the person may have come in contact with.

The person is now quarantined at home, Templeton said. Ervin said the person's case is more infectious than usual and they believe the person became infectious in January or February and was around people until March. Had DHEC known about the disease and the person's failure to cooperate earlier, Templeton said they would've issued the public health order much sooner.

Mark Plowden with DHEC said the person had not been at the school since March.

While TB is airborne, health officials said people can only get if from someone with a contagious version of the disease and must spend an extended period of time with that person.

At this point, the person has spread the TB infection to others, but he remains the sole case of contagious TB, officials said Tuesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, TB is spread through the air from one person to another when a person with TB disease (not infection) coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

However, the CDC said TB is not spread by shaking someone's hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing.

Additionally, Templeton said there is a national shortage of TB skin tests. She said in order to get the tests for Ninety Six, they had to get them directly from the manufacturer.

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