For Immediate Release – DPHSS Working with Others to Identify All Close Contacts to an Active Case of Tuberculosis (TB)

The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) in collaboration with the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Superior Court of Guam’s Jury Unit, and the Department of Education are working to identify all close contacts to an active case of tuberculosis (TB). All identified contacts recommended to undergo TB screening will be notified by letter and provided information regarding the date for the TB skin test.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria causing tuberculosis, is carried through the air in infectious droplet nuclei too small for the naked eye (small air-borne particles less than 5 microns in size) which are produced when persons with tuberculosis of the lung or larynx sneeze, cough, speak or sing. People cannot get infected with TB bacteria through handshakes, sitting on toilet seats, or sharing dishes and utensils with someone who has TB disease.

Persons exhibiting symptoms of the disease such as a bad cough that lasts longer than two weeks, coughing up bloody sputum, weakness or fatigue, chills, weight loss, no appetite, fever and night sweats should contact their physician.

Exposure to TB does not result in TB disease immediately, unlike other communicable diseases such as Measles, Mumps, and Pertussis. It takes anywhere from 2-12 weeks in order to see evidence of TB infection as shown by a positive TB skin test reaction. Most people who get exposed to TB might be able to keep the infection inactive or latent. However, children below the age of 5 years, people with Diabetes, or other immunosuppressive conditions may not be able to keep the infection under control and are at higher risk of developing active TB disease within a few months or 1-2 years after the exposure.

The DPHSS will provide the TB (PPD) skin test for free beginning January 5th to all identified contacts from the DPW, the Superior Court of Guam’s Jury Unit and Jurors, and student riders on Bus #72 from the following DOE schools: Daniel L. Perez Elementary School, Upi Elementary School, Machanao Elementary School, Francisco B. Leon Guerrero Middle School and Simon Sanchez High School.

Identified employees, jurors and students who do not complete the required TB skin test will be excluded from work, jury duty or school until the TB skin test has been completed. This exclusion is necessary to ensure that all affected employees, jurors and students receive the necessary testing.

The required TB skin test can be obtained through a private clinic; however, the results of the test must be submitted to the DPHSS, TB Control Program, in order to avoid exclusion.

For more information you may call me at 735-7102 or the TB Control Program at 735-7145/7157.

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