Ramsey County workhouse inmates possibly exposed to TBby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Ramsey County health officials are looking for people who spent time at the county's workhouse last spring. They're trying to determine if any former inmates were exposed to tuberculosis.
Ramsey County officials say an inmate with an active case of tuberculosis may have infected dozens of fellow inmates and workhouse employees earlier this year.
So far the county has tested 42 people, and 22 of them have tested positive for the latent tuberculosis infection.
Rob Fulton, director of the St. Paul-Ramsey County Department of Public Health, says officials are looking for 168 more people.
"We're particularly looking for people who were in residence at the workhouse between the dates April 14 to June 9," Fulton said.
Officials have tried to contact the former inmates by mail and by phone. They're also offering a $50 cash incentive for former inmates to come in and get tested. The county has set up a TB Testing Hotline, 651-266-2440.
People with latent, or inactive, TB don't show symptoms and cannot spread the disease. However, if latent TB is left untreated it can turn into more serious active TB.
Health officials say the general public is not at a heightened risk of getting the disease, since transmission requires close contact with someone showing symptoms.
Symptoms of general TB include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
Symptoms of TB disease of the lungs include coughing, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood. Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)