San Diego County warns of possible tuberculosis exposures in local jails


Two confirmed cases of tuberculosis in local jails elevated the risk of exposure at three government buildings in July and early August, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Friday.

Citing a desire to protect patient privacy, public health officials declined to say much about the two cases, or where the chance of exposure was greatest, but asked anyone who may have been exposed to reach out for more detailed information.

“We do have more specific locating information, and if people call and tell us where they were, we can tell them if it overlaps,” said Dr. Susannah Graves, chief of the county’s Tuberculosis Control Program.


Graves added that public health investigations have established no link between the two cases, which were detected during routine jail screenings.

The locations include the Vista Detention Facility, the North County Court Services and the Las Colinas Detention Center in Santee.

Graves said it takes close contact in a confined space for tuberculosis to spread from person to person. Usually about four hours of contact would be necessary for transmission, though only about one hour would be necessary for those with compromised immune systems.

Large open spaces, such as waiting rooms, courtrooms or visitation areas, present a much lower risk than places where people congregate closer together.

Initial infection often causes no symptoms, but once the bacterium that causes tuberculosis takes hold in a host, it can cause persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss.

A range of drugs can treat the infection, though it can take six to nine months to complete a full course.


In the last decade, a determined effort to bring tuberculosis under control has come under increasing threat from the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacterium.

There have been 107 tuberculosis cases reported in San Diego County this year. There were 237 cases reported in 2017, according to county records.

Sisson writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.