17 latent cases of tuberculosis reported in Pueblo | VailDaily.com

17 latent cases of tuberculosis reported in Pueblo

PUEBLO, Colorado ” Health officials have detected 17 cases of latent tuberculosis after the death of a Nepalese student who attended the Colorado State University-Pueblo.

They had come into contact with 19-year-old Kalpana Dangol, who lived in Colorado Springs while attending the university in Pueblo, The Denver Post reported.

Juli Bettridge, an investigator for the state health department, said 10 of the 17 are being treated for the disease. The other seven have moved or are refusing treatment, she said.

Most people with latent TB are not likely to develop an active infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control. However, people in at-risk groups, such as those with HIV, are urged to get treatment.

Dangol died June 8, hours after she was taken to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Health officials tested 149 people in Pueblo and El Paso counties who had come in contact with her.

Meanwhile, 15 Pueblo police officers have filed casualty reports after the arrest of a 71-year-old man with active pulmonary tuberculosis.

“Odds are the officers are not infected with TB,” Pueblo Police Chief Jim Billings told the Pueblo Chieftain on Saturday. “Just to make sure, though, we gave each officer a workmen’s compensation claim (report) where they give a blood sample so they can have a baseline reading.”

The name of the man, who was arrested on municipal warrants, was not released. He was put in a medical quarantine at an undisclosed location.

Pueblo County Undersheriff J.R. Hall said the disease was detected during a medical screening at the jail of the man arrested Thursday. He said as many as 22 officers and some jail personnel may have come into contact with the man.

“It’s important to know that it’s a very complicated situation because when someone has pulmonary TB . . . you can’t make a general assessment of their contagiousness,” Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, Pueblo’s health director, said. “What I can reassure the community is that this is one area that the health department takes very seriously so that people aren’t exposed, or if they have been, we look into the risk they might have been infected.”

Jody Carrillo, the health department’s director of disease prevention and emergency preparedness, said TB is very hard to contract, and would likely require being in contact with a victim for many hours in cramped quarters.

All staff who had contact with the man will undergo a skin reaction test. If they test negative they will be tested against in 10 to 12 weeks. A second negative test will clear them.

A positive test, while not meaning the person has the disease, will result in further tests.

Health department staffers plan to interview the man to find out with whom he had contact with for the past couple of months.

Billings and Hall said no one is panicking.

“It’s one of the hazards of the job. Obviously, the officers appreciate it when bystanders or family members tell them that they are about to make contact with someone with a contagious disease,” Billings said.

According to jail records, the TB patient served a six-day sentence for contempt of court on a municipal charge last month. Apparently the disease was not detected then.

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