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June 29, 2017

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CDC confirms 16 cases of latent tuberculosis in Keelung

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed on Wednesday that 16 people working for a cargo and freight company in Keelung's Qidu District have been diagnosed with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), but reassured the public that the disease is not contagious.

Latent tuberculosis is not active and therefore those who test positive for LTBI cannot pass the infection to others, the CDC explained.

Health authorities reported a confirmed TB case on November 11 last year after a former employee of the freight company checked into hospital with chest pains and a persistent cough in late October.

According to the CDC, the 55-year-old patient, who resigned from his job prior to checking into hospital, had been coughing since August.

The authorities sought to determine if anyone else at the company had been infected and after a follow-up blood test of 125 workers in close contact with the man, 16 were found to have latent tuberculosis.

"The 125 people were first X-rayed on Dec. 13 and no symptoms were found," CDC official Kuo Hsiang-lan (郭香蘭) said, adding that they were then given a blood test on Jan. 11.

"Results so far show that 16 of the 125 tested have developed symptoms of latent tuberculosis," she said.

The main risk is that about 10 percent of these patients will go on to develop active tuberculosis.

For patients with a latent infection, a three-month antibiotic treatment can prevent the full blown disease developing after a medical evaluation, she said.

CDC statistics indicate there were 10,139 confirmed TB cases in Taiwan last year, of which 600 resulted in fatalities. Meanwhile, from March to December last year, more than 35,000 received LTBI tests, with 5,528 confirmed cases.

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