TUNICA, Mississippi — The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has confirmed two recent cases of active tuberculosis (TB) contracted by workers at two casinos in Tunica. Health officials have yet to identify the casinos.
Tuberculosis is an airborne infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The MSDH has been working closely with the casinos to identify other individuals who were in close contact with the cases. The individuals are not currently at the casinos.
“No individuals from the general public have been identified as close contacts, and we have absolutely no reason to believe there has been transmission to any of the casino patrons,” MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.
“In fact, because of ventilation systems in these facilities, a casino is one of the least likely locations for transmission through casual contact,”
Dobs said the department is not revealing the casinos for which the TB patients worked.
Dobbs said the department is following the typical protocol for any TB investigation it does. “Once we detect a case of active TB, we identify close contacts of the case, perform testing to identify those who are potentially infected, and begin their treatment immediately,” he said.
“Both casinos have been incredibly cooperative and proactive in handling this situation,” he said. “We’ve been able to quickly arrange testing for employees at both of the casinos involved.”
Testing immediate contacts for TB exposure is a common function of the MSDH. Last year, 65 cases of TB were confirmed in Mississippi. Mississippi’s new case rate for TB remains below the national average.
While anyone can get TB, some groups are at higher risk, especially persons with HIV or other immunosuppressive condition, diabetics, smokers, those undergoing chemotherapy and those receiving immunosuppressive therapy.
TB is curable and preventable, though some drug-resistant strains of TB are more difficult to treat. Treatment for TB infection typically takes from 12 weeks to 9 months, depending on the drugs used