Tuberculosis cases at Stafford Creek looked at by CDC and other health agencies

Stafford Creek Correctional Center (SCCC) staff are addressing tuberculosis cases and possible exposure within the local prison.

In a memo sent out to staff and the incarcerated population last week from Stafford Creek Superintendent Ron Haynes and Lara Strick, MD, MS, Infectious Disease Physician at Washington State DOC, and shared with KXRO, it states that SCCC, Grays Harbor Public Health, and Washington State Department of Health staff are coordinating to assess tuberculosis (TB) exposure and transmission at the facility.

The memo states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also helping with the investigation in order to identify the individuals who have had probable TB exposure. 

Testing was offered to SCCC in January 2022 and the memo states that as of last week, eleven people had been placed on treatment for confirmed or probable active TB disease, but that continued evaluation is ongoing. 

It also states that many individuals with latent TB infection have also been placed on treatment. 

Starting on March 15, Occupational Health and Wellness Unit and DOC Health Services expected to have agency and contracted staff onsite for additional TB evaluations to test staff and incarcerated individuals identified by CDC who have had probable exposure.

SCCC staff that were identified to have probable TB exposure were contacted and asked to complete a TB evaluation when they entered the facility. 

Additional evaluations were available to those not identified as having exposure to one of the known cases.

 “As it takes time for the body to react to a TB test, it is important for staff and individuals in population identified with probable TB exposure to receive this follow-up evaluation. If you were tested in January, you still need to have a repeat evaluation for TB.” stated the memo.

The memo stated that the ongoing investigation by CDC will be the determination if a third round of TB testing will be necessary.

SCCC officials told KXRO;

“The process of identifying individuals exposed to TB and performing testing is not the same as it is for COVID-19. TB testing is routinely done over several months as the timeline for developing TB is much slower than for infections like COVID-19 and takes months or years for exposed individuals with a healthy immune system to become sick.  With TB we use a graduated approach starting with a group of individuals believed to have the greatest exposure first and expand outward over time depending on the rate of infection in the group tested.”

They added;

“Individuals who have had a positive test in the past or have a new positive test, may be asked to get a chest x-ray to assess for TB disease in the lungs. Individuals found to have active TB disease will be treated as clinically indicated. If infected, there is also treatment available to prevent individuals from becoming sick and spreading TB to others.

People with  latent TB infection have no symptoms and cannot spread TB to others, according to the CDC. Symptoms of TB disease can include chronic cough, fevers, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, or coughing up blood.”

Updates to staff, incarcerated persons, and families will continue, according to SCCC.