Department of Public Health (DPH) authorities have identified a tuberculosis case at a day care center in Brookline, Massachusetts, and have initiated an inspection at the facility in the evening of June 21.
On June 20, Tiny World Child Care sent parents an email warning them that their kids may have been exposed to tuberculosis.
While information about the patient remains undisclosed, the health department has been notifying anyone with the potential exposure, as well as recommending and providing TB testing. Preventative treatment will follow any positive results that will emerge in the days to come.
Scott Zoback, DPH communications director, ensured that they are monitoring the situation and working closely with the day care community and local officials. TB can be prevented and treated, and transmission in those cases has become highly uncommon today, he reminded.
One of the children’s parents, Boston University professor Katy Quissell, said she is not overly concerned, despite TB being a “really scary” condition.
“Kids tend to not be as contagious,” she said, adding they are not as easy transmitters of the disease as adults are. However, she still plans to bring her daughter to the hospital for a chest X-ray and likely a skin TB exam.
Quissell believed it was an active TB infection, although one with no “extreme threat.”
A patient who has acquired the bacteria likely won’t test positive until about three weeks post-exposure. Symptoms include persistent cough for three or so weeks, blood in cough or phlegm, weakness, fever, loss of appetite, and chills.
Individuals with latent infection do not exhibit symptoms, feel ill, or have the ability to transmit the disease.
The bacteria can be acquired when one spends time near someone infected; they inhabit the air when someone with active TB coughs, speaks, sneezes, or sings. This makes people regularly around a TB patient — such as parents, friends, and daycare mates — more likely to acquire the bug.
TB, however, cannot be communicated via clothing, utensils and drinking glasses, the toilet, and handshake, to name a few.
In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a shorter and cheaper treatment plan for the truly dangerous kind — drug-resistant tuberculosis — to curb thousands of cases of the illness’ superbug forms.
The new shorter recommended treatment is designed for patients with uncomplicated multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), such as those not demonstrating resistance to second-line drugs fluoroquinolones and injectables, and patients not yet given these second-line therapies.
Photo: Alan Kotok | Flickr