The East Metro Health District confirmed two additional people tested positive for contagious tuberculosis, bringing the total to five people infected by a Newton County man with tuberculosis.
The district tested 40 people who had been regularly exposed to Anthony Underwood, 32, of Covington who was arrested May 9 for failing to comply with treatment orders from the district by not keeping himself in isolation at home.
This included 11 family members, 14 extended family members and 15 friends and associates, according to district spokesperson Vernon Goins.
Of the five confirmed cases, who are all undergoing treatment, none are part of institutions such as schools or daycare centers that would expose them to large numbers of people, said Goins.
Underwood is currently receiving a four-month treatment at the detention center in a special "negative pressure" room in the medical ward.
Underwood's condition was discovered after he had been jailed at the Newton County Detention Center for 10 days on a probation violation relating to a charge of driving on a suspended license. About 200 to 250 people at the Newton County Detention Center, including staff and about 70 inmates in the section where Underwood was housed, were skin-tested as a precaution, according to NCSO nurse Lisa Smith. None turned up positive as of May 22, although there were still 75 people left to test.
Five other health districts - DeKalb, LaGrange, Northeast, North Central, and North - have begun investigating and tracking down possible exposed persons based on Underwood's reported travels. Underwood listed a painting company as his last known employer, according to the Newton County Detention Center.
Exposure, determined by a skin test, means a person has been exposed to someone with TB in the past and has developed antibodies for the tuberculosis-causing bacterium, but does not mean they have the disease. A chest x-ray can determine if a person is positive for latent tuberculosis. This means the person has the bacterium in their body but is not sick from it and is not infectious, although they could be in the future. A person found to be contagious with a test of phlegm or sputum from their lungs is likely experiencing symptoms and is infectious to others.
Transmission usually requires regular exposure to someone who has an infectious case of tuberculosis in their respiratory system, according to the Centers for Disease Control Web site.
Once a person is confirmed to have a contagious case of tuberculosis, they required by state law to receive treatment. The District also requires people with confirmed contagious tuberculosis to wear a mask in public, according to Goins.