Texas inmate dies of tuberculosis
The patient had an advanced infection, preliminary autopsy results show, according to Dr. Roger Smalligan, the health authority for the Amarillo Bi-City-County Health District, Amarillo Globe News reports.
The 30-year-old man was booked in the detention center on May 31. His name is not being released because next of kin have not yet been notified, according to Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas.
The inmate tested negative for tuberculosis through a standard skin test during the intake process.
"Based on preliminary findings, we believe that this patient had a unique type of infection due to an underlying medical condition that caused his infection to worsen over time," Smalligan said, Amarillo Globe News reports. "While the TB bacteria is the same, it can affect some people differently, particularly those who have compromised immune systems."
The skin test measures immune system activity and not the presence of tuberculosis, meaning that the man could have tested negatively due to immune deficiency.
The autopsy revealed the man had been suffering from milial tuberculosis, which affects systems throughout the body, though manifests fewer and milder symptoms than the more common pulmonary tuberculosis, Smalligan said, Amarillo Globe News reports.
Thomas said the inmate was not showing signs of tuberculosis, such as fever or cough. A month before his death the inmate complained of stomach pain, which subsided after he was given an over-the-counter medication.
Dr. Matt Richardson, the director of public health for the district, said that milial tuberculosis is less contagious than pulmonary tuberculosis. Staff and inmates are being tested as a precaution.
"The Health Department has been in contact with local and state experts in TB infections and investigations since the initial autopsy and lab reports were released Monday," Richardson said, Amarillo Globe News reports. "We are following the standard Centers for Disease Control guidelines for TB investigations in correctional facilities. ... While this is a serious exposure, it is important to remember that TB is easily treatable and very rarely fatal when diagnosed early."