KSDK.com (St. Louis) (02.05.13)
The St. Louis County Health Department is investigating the TB death late last month of a 43-year-old woman who worked at the Macy’s credit collections department in an industrial park in North St. Louis County’s Bridgeton, Mo. The death has generated fears of a TB outbreak and has led to extensive testing for those who worked and lived close to her. The woman’s relatives have revealed that she was coughing and ill for nearly a year before she was diagnosed. TB has symptoms similar to other respiratory diseases. Dr. David Stoeckel, a pulmonary specialist at St. Louis University Hospital, explains, "The symptoms, at times, are not nearly as acute or abrupt in onset as many of the pneumonias that we see. They can be very slow to develop and slowly progressive and the patients can learn to accommodate and frankly don't go to the doctor as soon as they should with these sorts of symptoms."
Macy's Spokesperson Jim Sluzewski released the following statement on this matter: "Macy's is naturally concerned when any associate is ill. Our goal is to maintain a workplace that provides a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Currently, we are working under the direction of the St. Louis County Department of Health to test and educate our associates related to [TB]. Beyond this testing and education, we encourage any associate with additional questions to consult their own doctor."
The St. Louis County Health Department also released a statement, noting that 20 to 30 cases of infectious TB are identified annually among St. Louis County residents. The health department‘s statement explains that, because the Code of State Regulations mandates the confidentiality of such investigations, the department cannot comment on specifics of this case. The health department states, “The department has been working diligently to identify those who may have been exposed and determine whether they have been infected. The health department will continue to monitor the situation until it is satisfied that anyone potentially exposed has been found and tested, and, if necessary, treated."