The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has released a letter stating that a person who attended the New Fire Ministry revival at the Old Bowling Alley in Bethel was recently diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB) disease. Persons who attended the revival April 12 to April 14, 2019 may have been exposed to TB.
The following is from the letter dated May 8th, 2019.
TB can be spread from person to person through the air. When a person breathes in TB bacteria from the air, the person may become infected with TB.
Persons who are infected with TB may become sick with active TB disease. Some, especially young children and persons with immune disorders, may become sick soon after becoming infected. Some become sick many years after becoming infected. Symptoms of active TB disease can include a prolonged cough lasting three or more weeks, coughing up blood, weight loss, fevers, sweats, and feeling very tired or weak.
Many persons who get infected with TB may never develop active TB disease. A person with TB infection that is not active does not have any symptoms and is not contagious. The only way we can detect the infection at this stage is with a tuberculin skin test (TST) or a Quantiferon blood test.
TB infection and active TB disease can be cured by taking the correct medications. It is always best to find and treat TB infection before it becomes active and starts causing symptoms.
The letter describes what to do next in the following, especially for those who think they may have been exposed:
You are receiving this letter because it is possible you may have been exposed to TB. You should be screened for TB infection with a TST or the Quantiferon blood test. Because it can take several weeks for a person to develop a positive test after becoming infected, people who are negative on their initial testing should be re-tested in 2-3 months.
If you previously had a positive TST or blood test, you do not need repeat testing. You should let your healthcare provider or Public Health Nurse know. You would benefit from treatment for TB infection if you haven’t been treated previously.
Anyone with a positive TBT or Quantiferon test or symptoms of TB disease needs to be evaluated by a health care provider. If you have a positive test and no findings of TB disease, treatment for TB infection can greatly reduce your risk to become sick and contagious with TB disease in the future.
Free TB testing is available at the Bethel Public Health Center Monday – Wednesday and Friday from 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm. Please call 543-2110 for an appointment. You may also contact your health care provider or village clinic for TB testing.
Please contact the Bethel Public Health Center at 543-2110 or the Alaska TB program at 269-8000 if you need more information.