Alabama facing Tuberculosis outbreak in prisons

Alabama facing Tuberculosis outbreak in prisons

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Tuberculosis, a bacterium that usually attacks the lungs and easily spreads from one person to another through the air, has infected one student at Auburn University.

A list of people who may have been in contact with student have been notified and will be tested next week.

"If one person has it, there is a chance that other people could have it and people who live in forms or where you're constantly interacting with each other, maybe Auburn could check on those situations regularly," explains Auburn University student, Terry Dugan.

Speaking of close quarters, it was announced that Alabama prisons has had its worst TB outbreak in five years.

Nine cases have been diagnosed so far, eight of them happening at the St. Clair Correctional Facility near Birmingham.

And to prevent the disease from spreading amongst the 25,000 prisoners, new inmates are being transferred to other lockups.

Inmates at the Lee County Detention Center incarcerated for more than seven days will be automatically tested for tuberculosis. However, Sheriff Jay Jones said he can remember the last time an inmate tested positive for TB.

"If we end up with an individual, that has an active case, then we immediately segregate the that individual and identify any persons that come into contact with that person. We have them isolated completely," says Jones.

A patient with tuberculosis can appear to have less-serious illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis, and doctors typically don't suspect TB right away.

No new prison cases have been diagnosed for week in Alabama, giving health officials hope the spread has ended.

Infected inmates are treated for six months following the diagnosis.

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