05/25/12 — County looks at child's death

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County looks at child's death

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 25, 2012 1:46 PM

A young Wayne County child's death was caused by tuberculosis, although not the communicable kind, Health Department officials said this week.

Health Director Davin Madden said once it was determined that the strain of TB was not contagious, it became a matter of containing it.

"It was not an outbreak," said Josa Raynor-Vaughn, communicable disease program manager.

She said the case was unique, in that the form of TB was in the spine. That is not unusual, though, in the sense that tuberculosis can strike anywhere in the body, she said.

"With the type of TB that the child had, it's not communicable," she said Thursday. "If it's in the lung or laryngeal, that's the only type that spreads. Menengial -- in the spinal cord -- can't be spread. The only way that you can spread TB is if it's pulmonary or respiratory."

The health department's involvement began in mid-April, when a 3-year-old child was admitted to Wayne Memorial Hospital and later died in Greenville.

Madden said the department was notified by an epidemiologist from the state, prompting investigation and response by the communicable disease program staff.

He commended the swift actions taken by health department staff in handling the situation.

Among the first steps taken, he said, was to assess those who might have come in contact with the affected child. Some of them were transient, he said, so moving quickly before any left the area was tantamount.

"Thirty-five contacts were given TB skin tests to prevent anyone else being injured," he said, noting that of those, 11 were under 5 years old.

"Of those contacts, three contacts did have a positive skin tests -- two children and one adult. They were started on treatment."

The staff's quick response to the situation was commendable, Madden said.

"Our staff picked themselves up and went out into this community and immediately went out to test people," he said. "Some had to have chest X-rays, samples. Eleven children of those contacts were put on medication for eight weeks."

There will also be follow-up care provided in the coming weeks, he added.

Ms. Raynor-Vaughn agreed that the process involved in responding to such a case was "very labor-intensive."

"We put 190 manhours into this investigation," Madden said. "The only bad side is we did have a fatality. The good side is we have not had any more.

"The problem is we still have not been able to identify the source but we have been vigilant and we have not removed ourselves from the investigation."