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Active Tuberculosis Case Confirmed In Howard County

Last updated on Friday, March 2, 2012

(KOKOMO)(WTHR13) - State and county health officials are alerting the public after an active tuberculosis case was confirmed in Howard County.

Now, the Indiana State Department of Health and the Howard County Health Department are working to prevent further transmission of the disease.

Alyssa Dudley is a regular at OP Nail Salon. "I used to go every two weeks and get them done," Dudley said.

But she's concerned she may have left with more than a manicure.

Alyssa, who is 9 months pregnant, learned she's one of up to 300 customers exposed to tuberculosis at the spa.

An employee at the Kokomo salon, the owner's wife, is now quarantined in her home after the health department confirmed a diagnosis of TB.

It's a highly contagious bacteria transmitted by the infected person coughing, sneezing, or breathing on someone else.

"If you're coughing up TB, then those around you could breathe it in," said Howard County Nursing Coordinator Kathy Oldaker. "You develop a cough, you could spit up blood, night sweats, weight loss, those are all signs of tuberculosis."

Since the salon is mostly walk-in and doesn't keep a customer log book, health leaders aren't sure who has been exposed.

That's why they're holding free clinics next Monday and Tuesday to get customers tested for TB. They will be held from noon to 6:00 pm at the Community CareMobile Unit in the Howard Regional Health System parking lot, next to the Annex Building off of Lafountain Street

Anyone who went to OP Nail Salon between September 28, 2011 and February 22, 2012, is encouraged to get tested.

"Even if you went with a friend or your mom and you just sat in the waiting room, we still recommend that you be tested for TB," Oldaker said.

The salon is open now and the health department says there's no new risk of infection. In fact, health leaders say it is safe to go there because tuberculosis doesn't remain on surfaces. The bacteria doesn't stay in the air.

"It doesn't live outside the body. It's not transmitted by touch and exposure to air kills the bacteria," Oldaker said.

But for those previously exposed, a TB test is a must.

Alyssa says it's not just for her safety, but also her unborn child. "That's the scariest part. That's why we're looking to get tested and make sure that everything's ok," she said.

Testing at the clinic involves having the test placed and then read 72 hours later.

Tuberculosis can remain dormant for years in a person with a healthy immune system, so you may not show symptoms. There are treatments if an active case of TB is diagnosed.

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