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TB exposure prompts San Diego County to urge federal prison staff, detainees to get tested

The Metropolitan Correctional Complex (MCC), site of one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the federal prison system, on Sept. 21, 2020.
Andi Dukleth
File photo of the Metropolitan Correctional Complex (MCC), Sept. 21, 2020.

Following a tuberculosis case reported at Metropolitan Correctional Center San Diego, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency is working with detention center officials to notify people who may have been exposed to the disease, it was announced Tuesday.

The period of potential exposure is from April 28 to Sept. 22.

MCC San Diego is offering free testing for all identified detainees and Bureau of Prisons staff. The county's TB Control Program is testing, at no- cost, all identified people who have been released and do not have a medical provider.


"Testing is recommended for people who were exposed to assure they are not infected, since initial infection usually has no symptoms," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "For any infected individuals, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent the infectious form of the disease."

RELATED: Court Filing: COVID-19 Outbreak At San Diego Jail Due To Careless Handling Of Infected Inmate

According to the HHSA, a negative TB test result usually indicates that the person is not infected with the bacteria that causes the disease. However, it may take 8 to 10 weeks after exposure for a test to be positive. Individuals exposed at MCC San Diego with a negative test result during the month of October will require a follow-up TB test on or after Nov. 22.

Tuberculosis is transmitted from person to person through indoor air during prolonged contact with an infectious individual. Most people who are exposed do not become infected.

Symptoms of the disease include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and weight loss.


"For individuals with symptoms of tuberculosis, or those with compromised immune systems who may not show symptoms, it is important that the person sees their medical provider to rule out tuberculosis," a statement from the county reads.

Tuberculosis can be treated and cured with antibiotics.

People who would like more information on this potential exposure can call the County TB Control Program at 619-692-8621.

Tuberculosis is not uncommon in the San Diego region, but has been decreasing since the early 1990s and has stabilized in recent years, a statement from the HHSA read. In 2020, 192 cases were reported in San Diego County.