Guam Detainee Awaiting Trial Confirmed To Have TB

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Investigation underway about possible exposure to inmates, staff

By Jasmine Stole

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, April 2, 2014) – Guam Department of Corrections officials have confirmed that a person awaiting trial while confined at DOC was found to have active tuberculosis. The detainee was sent to Guam Memorial Hospital and placed in isolation as of 4 p.m. yesterday.

Jeff Limo, special assistant to the director at DOC, said the TB case was discovered by Centers for Disease Control personnel from the Department of Public Health and Social Services. DOC’s medical director relayed the information to DOC Director Jose San Agustin.

San Agustin initiated an internal investigation to break down the level of contact inmates and staff might have had with the infected detainee. "From there, we will find out how many people will have to be tested," Limo said.

TB testing is expected to be done as soon as possible and is expected to be conducted by CDC and DPHSS personnel, he added.

The department is optimistic about working with DPHSS to mitigate the cost of this emergency testing. "It’s going to cost money for the testing. But because this is an emergency, I’m sure that we can work with public health in ensuring that we can get it done," Limo said.

DOC officials will also be investigating whether the detainee had TB prior to his confinement.

Limo said eight to nine pre-trial detainees are transferred to the Mangilao facility a day and do not undergo a mandated 10-day health clearance.

It is only after a person has been committed to serve time at DOC by the court that the inmate goes through the health clearance. The PPD skin test, which determines whether an individual has been exposed to TB, is part of the health clearance process.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another and is caused by a bacterium that usually attacks the lungs, although it could attack other parts of the body.

According to the CDC, TB cannot be spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing foods or drinks, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, or by kissing.

When someone with TB sneezes, coughs, speaks or sings, the bacteria may become airborne and others nearby may become infected by inhaling the bacteria.

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