11/18/10 — Migrant worker found with TB infection

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Migrant worker found with TB infection

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 18, 2010 1:46 PM

A migrant worker who recently relocated to Wayne County is being treated for tuberculosis, according to local health officials.

The unidentified man, estimated to be in his mid-20s, is in isolation at Cherry Hospital, Health Director James Roosen said Wednesday.

"He had skipped out on his treatment in Florida and he was found by EMS on Highway 70, when they got a call to pick this man up," Roosen said. "He had active TB. He does not know where he was living or who he was living with or who he was working with."

Initially, the man was admitted to Wayne Memorial Hospital. Roosen, who speaks Spanish, interviewed him.

"He has not given us any contacts of people that he was around," Roosen said. "We had no other options but to send him to Cherry Hospital, and that's where he is today."

Roosen estimated that the patient had been in the area for about three weeks. He spent 10 days at the hospital and has been at Cherry for nearly two weeks.

"He's being treated over there, but the main thing is he's in isolation," he said.

The Health Department and Department of Social Services have worked collaboratively on the case, Roosen said, but to no avail.

"He's not giving up any information," he said. "But he is positive (for TB) and will have to stay there until he becomes negative. We're looking at probably placing him in the Department of Correction."

The health director said the case has been "very interesting," while at the same time could have presented a potentially dangerous situation for the community.

"He could easily have transmitted TB in a church, in Walmart, in a theater," he said.

Not to mention the economic impact the patient is having on the county, Roosen added.

"It's very expensive (to treat)," he said. "He'll be on treatment on another six to nine months. We want to keep him in our system of care."

Tuberculosis is not as rare as some might think, said Josa Raynor-Vaughn, communicable disease program manager for the Health Department.

"We see a lot of people with TB during the year," she said, estimating last year's figures at 1,000. "We made over 1,400 visits to the home for giving out medication ... We do a lot of what we call TB screenings for people that have tested positive."