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117 being tested after TB patient stayed at Room in the Inn program

Clients of the Urban Ministry Center’s Room in the Inn program load up various church vans taking them to a place to rest for the night in March 2016.
Clients of the Urban Ministry Center’s Room in the Inn program load up various church vans taking them to a place to rest for the night in March 2016. Charlotte Observer file photo

The Mecklenburg County Public Health Department is testing the skin of 117 people known to have come into contact with a tuberculosis patient who stayed at the Urban Ministry Center’s Room in the Inn program for the homeless.

“We feel very confident that we have found everyone who may have come into contact with this individual over the course of several months this winter,” Public Health Medical Director Stephen Keener said Friday afternoon. “But in an abundance of caution, we are making residents aware of this situation, the symptoms to look for and how to report any suspect cases.”

On Tuesday, a homeless resident was seen at Public Health’s TB Clinic and was determined to be infected with tuberculosis. He had been diagnosed with TB and had begun treatment in another county, but wanted to continue treatment here, the health department said in a statement.

Public Health staff determined the man participated in the Urban Ministry’s Room in the Inn program in several Mecklenburg County churches in December, January and February while he was symptomatic. Public Health staff worked with the Urban Ministry Center to identify people who might have been exposed to the man.

TB skin testing will occur for those 117 people at Urban Ministry’s main location. Urban Ministry will distribute letters to the individuals with information and instructions.

TB is a highly infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, according the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can strike any part of the body, such as the kidney, spine and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.

If not treated properly, TB can be fatal. You can get TB only from an infected person by close contact with saliva or a wet cough. You cannot get TB from surfaces.

TB tests are available at the Beatties Ford Road Health Department, 2845 Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte, by appointment from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and 8 to 11 a.m. Friday. Call 704-336-6500 to schedule an appointment.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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