Health officials in San Diego County and Naval Base Point Loma officials are working together to notify individuals of a possible tuberculosis (TB) exposure at the base.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria/CDC
Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria/CDC

The periods of exposure are from October 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017 in the Naval Base Point Loma Old Town Complex in building OT3 and from February 1 to April 7 in the Naval Base Point Loma Topside building #40.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

“Those confirmed to be exposed and infected can be treated and cured with medication to minimize chances of developing active TB disease; that’s why it’s important to identify those who have been exposed”, says Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

The Navy will provide no-cost testing to all identified individuals at Naval Base Point Loma Old Town Complex beginning May 9 and on May 15 and 16 in the auditorium on Topside A-33.

TB in not uncommon in the San Diego region.  Locally, cases have declined overall since 2001 but have fluctuated the past six years. There were 258 TB cases reported in San Diego in 2016 and 234 cases in 2015.  To date, 68 cases have been reported in 2017.