More Tuberculosis Linked to Aurora Shelter Tuberculosis: Disease Difficult to Control among Homeless Population, Official Says

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 21, 2014 | Go to article overview

More Tuberculosis Linked to Aurora Shelter Tuberculosis: Disease Difficult to Control among Homeless Population, Official Says


Byline: Lauren Rohr lrohr@dailyherald.com

After more than a year of inactivity in a tuberculosis outbreak associated with an Aurora homeless shelter, the Kane County Health Department confirmed this week another active case was discovered in April, and a suspect case is under investigation.

From early 2010 until fall 2012, 46 active TB cases were reported as part of the outbreak, the first of which dated to 2007, health department spokesman Tom Schlueter said. The common link among all cases was contact with Aurora's Hesed House.

Hesed House officials worked with the county to control the outbreak. A March 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited the county's handling of the situation as a model to follow. More than a year passed without the emergence of another active case.

Two months ago another patient was diagnosed with TB of the same genetic makeup as that of the outbreak cases, Schlueter said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is testing another potential TB patient -- a procedure that could take six to nine weeks, said Barbara Jeffers, executive director of the Kane County Health Department. If the patient's genotype pattern matches the Aurora outbreak cases, the patient will be listed as another active case linked to the outbreak.

The case was reported to the health department after the patient checked into a hospital displaying signs of TB, Jeffers said. Further questioning led health officials to believe that the patient might have been in contact with somebody who had stayed at Hesed House, she said. But there is no way of knowing if the case is connected to the outbreak until the lab results are completed.

Until then, the patient is being treated in isolation,

See Tuberculosis on Page 4

Jeffers said, adding that individual case information cannot be released.

"Suspect cases are just that, they're suspect," Schlueter said. "There have been other suspect cases that have never turned into full-blown active cases."

Jeffers said TB is difficult to control, especially among the homeless. TB bacteria, which usually attack the lungs, are spread through the air. People can catch the potentially fatal disease from basic interaction with an infected person.

"That's why we need to know the genesis of it," Jeffers said. …

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