We have an update regarding an outbreak of tuberculosis that started in Grand Forks last fall.
Officials say it's under control, but dozens of people are now being treated for T.B.
T.B. is a lung disease that can be fatal if it isn't treated, and officials say getting the outbreak stopped has involved hundreds of medical personnel.
The outbreak of TB started in October. Three students at Grand Forks schools were identified with active cases. Those cases all traced back to an infected, homeless family, who had stopped in town to stay with friends.
Public Health Director, Don Shields says the outbreak is not linked to any public facility, like the Grand Forks Mission or any school. All the cases are linked back to the original family.
Don Shields, GF Public Health Dept.: "I you remember, TB is a very fragile disease. In order to get it you have to have very close contact for an extended period of time."
However, Shields says tracking down all those people who may have had contact with those who are infected has been a major job…. that's now lead to 900 people being tested.
Shields says as of today, there are 16 people in Grand Forks with active cases, and another 44 people are being treated just to make sure they don't develop an active case. He says many of those cases are observed on a daily, first hand basis to make sure they're taking their medication.
Don Shields: "So there's a huge amount of support needed both by Altru, by ourselves, by the State in terms of tracking down people We've also had 2 teams from the Center for Disease Control here helping us in December, January and February."
Shields says it's possible a few more cases of TB could pop up. But he says, they'll continue to track down any possible links to completely stop the outbreak.
Shields says Grand Forks residents should not have any concerns about going to any public places. He only asks that if you are contacted by a Public Health Department employee, please cooperate and undergo testing if it's requested.
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