CDC assists in local TB investigationMeyer: There can be no barrier to health care for those in need of testing or treatment for tuberculosis
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Two representatives from the Centers for Disease Control have been in Nobles County for more than a week now as the local public health agency continues to investigate an outbreak of tuberculosis.
Brad Meyer, director of Nobles-Rock Community Health Services, said an individual from Minneapolis and a federal investigator from the Atlanta, Ga., office of the CDC will likely remain in Worthington through the end of this week.
The two individuals are assisting the public health agency in its investigation into a recent increase in tuberculosis cases in Nobles County.
Meyer said one of the points stressed by the CDC during its visit was that there can be no barrier to health care for those in need of testing or treatment for tuberculosis.
“Diagnostic tests are the responsibility of public health,” Meyer said, referring to incidences where patients cannot afford the fees.
The agency is also experiencing some challenges in making sure TB patients get to their out-of-town medical appointments. Public Health Nurse Barb Navara said she will offer, as a last resort, gas money for people to get to their TB-related doctor appointments in Sioux Falls, S.D., or Mankato.
NRCHS board members on Wednesday afternoon approved ratifying bills for those who need to be reimbursed for mileage, so that they can be paid sooner.
Meyer also said a request will be made to the CDC for grant funding — $80,000 over the next three years — to help cover the agency’s expenses related to TB.
Meanwhile, public health staff continues its investigation into the spread of the disease. Public Health Nurse Barb Navara was commended for her investigation of the family and friends of the adult male with TB.
“We’ve identified who we suspect is the primary index case,” Meyer said. “We’ve got the people we think he’s been around since he was infectious, but it’s not over. We haven’t run all the tests … (or) done all the medical therapies.”
Meyer said the agency will be dealing with the aftermath of the TB investigation for the next 12 months, and that is only if there aren’t any new cases in the near future.
“The highly infectious strain, we think, did come from another country,” Meyer said. “There are still two other types in Minnesota that could come back to get us later. This could pop up again at any time.”
In other action:
- Health Educator Paula Anderson reported that she and public health sanitarian Jason Kloss recently completed tobacco compliance checks in both Rock and Nobles counties. Anderson said three of 23 businesses in Rock County sold tobacco products to an underage buyer, while six of 29 businesses in Nobles County sold to a minor. Those businesses included: Green Lantern of Hardwick; Glen’s Food Center in Luverne; the Short Stop in Ellsworth; and Casey’s West, Food-N-Fuel, Blue Line, Walgreens, Video Lupita (East Avenue location) and Bob & Steve’s Shell, all of Worthington.
- Navara reported that the WIC clinic is distributing approximately 1,300 vouchers per month on average — numbers that have remained fairly steady. Also, income guidelines are changing for the WIC program, and there will be some educational programming done for staff before the changes are implemented.
- NRCHS staff was recognized with floral bouquets and cards for their service to the agency.