The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw county health departments are collaboratively working with three healthcare facilities to determine the health status of patients and staff who have been identified as being in close contact with a healthcare worker recently diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) disease.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria/CDC
Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria/CDC

The healthcare worker, who unknowingly was ill with TB at the time, worked in two hospitals and a senior rehabilitation and long-term care facility, and may have been in contact with more than 600 individuals between May 1, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2018.

The worker is currently receiving treatment and is not working at this time. Patients and staff that may have been exposed are being notified and encouraged to obtain testing. Those who do not receive notification identifying them as someone who has been in close contact with the identified individual, but still have concerns, may contact their local health department or primary care physician.

TB is a treatable bacterial disease that can be serious and is spread through the air from one person to another. There are two forms of TB: TB infection, where people have the TB bacteria in their bodies but are not sick, and TB disease, where the bacteria multiply and cause people to become sick. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 9,272 new cases of TB disease in the United States, of which 133 cases were reported from Michigan.

Not everyone who is exposed to TB will be infected, and many people who have TB infection never develop TB disease. However, those who do develop the disease can spread the bacteria to other people, and it is important to identify those who may be at risk so they can receive treatment to prevent the disease from developing.

TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs, but can attack any part of the body such as the spine, brain or kidneys. Symptoms can include:

  • A bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • No appetite
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sweating at night

Blood tests and medical treatment are being offered and provided as necessary by St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals to affected patients and staff who have been notified by the hospitals that they may be exposed. Results will be available within a few days.

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South Lyon Senior Care and Rehab has provided testing to all current staff and patients. Former staff members and patients who are notified by the facility about potential exposure are asked to contact their county health department or primary care physician for testing.