TB Testing Begins

Teresa Brenner didn't waste any time getting her TB test once she got her letter. "My mind flashed back to a person who had a bad cough and I'm thinking, 'I offered her cough drops,' and I'm thinking, ' you know, I did have contact with her," Teresa said.

So with a stick of a needle, Teresa will learn within 2 to 3 days if she was exposed." You run into people all the time on the bus with bad coughs, it didn't register. It's just kind of a wake up call," Teresa exclaimed.

Earlier this week, WTOC was first to tell you that a Teleride bus driver tested positive for an active case of TB. She's being treated, but now the health department needs to screen all her passengers from January to April.

Those 340 people affected should have already received a letter in the mail, or a phone call. Now they need to make an appointment with the health department to see if they were exposed.

It's a wake up call Chatham County Health department Nurse, Staci Fontaine, hopes more people will listen to. " I think they're scared. But everyone needs to realize it's just a precaution right now. We want to get everyone screened as a precaution, we want to prevent an outbreak."

By placing a protein derivative of TB under the skin, Staci will make sure a bubble appears on Teresa's forearm. That bubble will then form a bump. It's the size of that bump that Staci will measure in two to three days.

"We have a little TB ruler and we measure. Anything that's 5 or above, we will treat with prophylaxis, which is a preventative medicine," explained Staci.

But she also warns against anyone trying to measure it themselves. Even if a bump forms, it doesn't mean a person has TB, just that they've been exposed to the germ that causes it.

Teresa says she's okay with whatever her outcome is. She's not going to let it bother her this weekend. "I haven't felt any symptoms, so I'm pretty confident that I don't," said Teresa, " And if I did test positive, then the medications will do their job."

Starting Monday, health officials will be setting up a trailer in the ball field across from the health department on Eisenhower Drive and begin screening patients there. Teleride will be providing free transportation for any of those passengers who need to be screened. Those same people will have to return to the health department in 48 to 72 hours to have their results read. To make an appointment, you can call the Chatham County Health Department at 356-2155.

Reported By: Melanie A. Ruberti; mruberti@wtoc.com