Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, is an airborne disease, meaning that it is typically spread through someone infected by the disease coughing or sneezing in the surrounding air. TB can be deadly, killing over 2 million people every year. The most liable persons to have caught TB would be anyone who was in close contact with the Subway employee – close contact meaning anyone who works with and/or had direct physical contact with the employee.
Symptoms of the disease when it is in full swing include a bloody, progressive cough that lasts a few weeks, extreme sudden weight loss, fatigue, and night sweats.
The entire Subway staff at the Tuscaloosa location is in the process of being screened if they haven’t been already.
According to Dr. Albert White, Area Health Officer for Public Health Area 3, TB is not transmitted through food or utensils. TB can be treated and prevented, but should be dealt with extreme caution because of how lethal the disease can be.
The news of TB popping up in Tuscaloosa came just after a case of TB in Auburn in late June.
Approximately 70 people were tested for the disease in Auburn after the ADPH informed Auburn University that a student had tested positive for TB. According to Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, there were more than 160 cases of TB in the state of Alabama.
“This is the first active case of TB that I’m aware of at Auburn in my 15 years here,” Kam said.
The Auburn student that was infected with the disease sought out a private physician and is being treated.
Auburn University emailed students, professors and any staff members that may have been in close contact with the student from both spring and summer semesters immediately after the diagnosis was released. Contacting students from the spring semester was used out of extra caution.
According to Kam, most of the 70 people being tested have already been tested for both the latent TB infection and the disease, and no indicators of TB have shown up in the blood tests.
According to al.com, Alabama was up 10 percent on its count of TB cases and has already had 83 cases of TB this year. No sources have confirmed that the Auburn and Tuscaloosa cases were in any way connected.