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For Immediate Release

July 23, 2008

Contact Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or


DHHS Follows Up on TB Case

Lincoln—The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is working with the Douglas County Health Department and the Sarpy/Cass Department of Health and Wellness to investigate the case of an adult who has active tuberculosis and to do follow-up on those who have had extended exposure to that person.

"People who had extended, close exposure to the individual will be tested for TB and will be given preventive treatment if their tests are positive," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health. Ten co-workers of the individual were tested and the results were negative.

"Both the employer and the patient have been very helpful in this situation," Dr. Schaefer said.

Anyone can get TB but people who are especially at risk are members of the same household as an active case of the disease. The greater the degree of personal contact, the greater the risk of becoming infected with the disease.

"We are bringing this to people’s attention because, although it is a low risk, people may hear about it in the community and we want to reassure them," she said.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that usually infect the lungs. When someone with tuberculosis of the lungs coughs or sneezes, TB germs can get into the air and be transmitted to other people. Symptoms of the disease include feeling weak or sick, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. Individuals with TB of the lungs may have coughing and chest pain.

Antibiotics are very effective in treating the disease. However, to be effective, they may need to be taken for six to 12 months.

Over the last five years, 152 active cases of TB have been reported to DHHS. So far this year, 20 cases have been reported. Nebraska ranks 40 th in the nation for TB.

The Nebraska Tuberculosis Control Program provides surveillance, case management services, laboratory services, medical consultation and education. In 2007, the program provided medication for over 1,000 Nebraska residents with non-active tuberculosis.

The program contracts with local health departments to provide care and follow-up for persons with active disease.

For more information see the DHHS Web site at

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