August 22, 2014 10:35:23 AM
JACKSON -- State health regulators confirm they're investigating two cases of tuberculosis affecting two casinos in Tunica County.
The Mississippi State Department of Health, in a news release Thursday, said the two cases involve at least one employee at each casino.
Tuberculosis is an airborne infectious disease that's curable and preventable. Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state's epidemiologist, says there's no evidence to suggest that any casino patrons were exposed.
"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. In fact, because of ventilation systems in these facilities, a casino is one of the least likely locations for transmission through casual contact," Dobbs said.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. spokesman Gary Thompson confirmed a case of TB was found in one of its table game dealers at Horseshoe Casino and Hotel. "When the infection was identified, we immediately began working with the Mississippi State Department of Health and followed every protocol that today's medical professionals prescribe to treat known TB infections and discover and treat the spread of tuberculosis," he said.
A spokeswoman for MGM Resorts International, which operates Gold Strike Casino Resort, would not confirm whether one of its employees was involved, but said the company was cooperating with the state's investigation.
"The safety and health of our employees is of our highest concern," said Mary Spain. "We are working closely with the state department (of health) to arrange testing."
WHBQ-TV reports the state is holding a broad testing for employees at Gold Strike and Horseshoe casinos beginning Monday.
Thompson stressed that there's no immediate danger or concern for employees or patrons.
"This is an airborne illness that is an infection and is treated with antibiotics," Thompson said. "We have provided the table games leaders with all the necessary information including handouts from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the Mississippi Department of Health."
Treatment for TB infection typically takes from 12 weeks to 9 months, depending on the drugs used.
Testing immediate contacts for TB exposure is a common function of the MSDH. Last year, 65 cases of TB were confirmed in Mississippi, the state health department said.
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