Patient with active tuberculosis diagnosed in Thermal

THERMAL, Calif. - County health officials said Thursday that a patient with active tuberculosis was treated recently at a Thermal medical clinic and that officials are reaching out to other patients and clinic staff who may have been exposed to the illness.

Officials say that the patient was treated at Borrego Health Centro Medico Coachella clinic in Thermal and may have exposed staff and other patients. However, officials said that testing for tuberculosis is simple and that transmission risks are low.

``TB is very treatable once it's diagnosed,'' said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer. ``The risk of transmission in this case is low, but we want to ensure anyone who was potentially exposed is tested as a precaution.''

Clinic patients and staff will be notified of their potential exposure with a letter advising they be screened for the illness. Kaiser said testing for tuberculosis is ``quick and virtually painless,'' involving a skin test and a follow-up chest X-ray if the skin test reads positive.

``Borrego Health is ready and willing to provide the professional quality care that all people deserve in the Coachella Valley,'' said V. Manuel Perez, Borrego Health chief government and public affairs officer.

``Tuberculosis is a serious matter and we want the community to know that we are working closely with the Department of Public Health Disease Control branch to manage the situation.''

According to health officials, tuberculosis is ``spread through the air during prolonged, repeated, and close contact with an individual who is infected with active tuberculosis.''

It is not spread by shaking hands, sharing food or drink, or through sharing bed linens or toilet seats, officials said. Untreated infection of tuberculosis can result in serious complications, but not everyone who is infected displays symptoms.

More common symptoms include coughing, weight loss, fever, and feeling tired.

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