A YMCA in Omaha, Nebraska, is at the center of a health department investigation into over 500 potential tuberculosis exposures linked to an active case in their drop-in child care program. The infected person, diagnosed over the weekend, had symptoms starting in August, making those with close contact from May 30 through Oct. 30 potentially exposed. The Douglas County Health Department urges testing for tuberculosis bacteria due to the airborne nature of transmission.
While tuberculosis infections may be latent in many, 5% to 10% can progress to active disease if untreated. Symptoms, which vary by age, include persistent cough, chest pain, and coughing up blood. The YMCA, using attendance records, contacted individuals exposed, focusing on the Child Watch program. Only those in the same room as the patient are considered close contacts.
The investigation, potentially one of the Midwest’s largest, aims to minimize community risk. The infected patient, undergoing supervised treatment, has pulmonary tuberculosis concentrated in the lungs. Treatment involves antibiotics for at least six months. Children under 5 exposed within the last 10 weeks are recommended to undergo testing, X-rays, and preventive antibiotics.
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Clinics, including one by Children’s Nebraska, offer testing for affected children, with the YMCA providing testing for other close contacts. The health department remains optimistic about limiting the impact on the larger community.