PACHECO – Health officials said at least 10 cases of tuberculosis have been linked to a casino in Contra Costa County, prompting a recommendation for workers and patrons to undergo TB testing.
In a statement Thursday, Contra Costa Health said recent genetic testing revealed cases among staff and customers at the California Grand Casino in Pacheco over the past five years.
Of the 11 confirmed cases, 10 are genetically linked and the majority are associated with staff or customers. The 11th case has yet to be tested, officials said.
"We are making this recommendation now because there is new evidence that TB may have spread among people who spent time at the casino from 2018 to 2023," deputy health officer Dr. Meera Sreenivasan said.
According to Sreenivasan, a person can have the tuberculosis bacteria living inside them for months or even years without showing symptoms.
The disease can spread when a person who is symptomatic coughs or breathes out droplets containing the bacteria, particularly in an enclosed space over a long period of time, such as several hours. Symptoms of active tuberculosis include persistent or bloody cough, fever, unexpected weight loss, night sweats, and fatigue.
"That is why it's important to take a test, even if you do not feel sick," Sreenivasan said.
"Contra Costa Health has not identified any ongoing sources of transmission at the card room. We are actively collaborating with the county on notifications and testing to uphold public health and safety," said Becky Warren, a spokesperson for the California Grand Casino.
Lisa (who declined to provide her last name) lives in Contra Costa County. She didn't know about the recent cases of tuberculosis but she is always on high alert for any type of germs and disease.
"I would just hope that, with everything going on in our world today, that we're all taking the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and each other," she told KPIX.
Officials said Thursday that they have contacted more than 300 people who may have been exposed to active TB. The health department is also working with casino management to provide health education to staff and to encourage testing.
The health department said it has not identified a current or ongoing source of transmission at the casino.
UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong told KPIX that tuberculosis doesn't necessarily result in illness initially because it can go into hiding for years. The good news is the disease is treatable with antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8,300 cases of TB were reported in the U.S. last yea but up to 13 million Americans are estimated to be living with a latent TB infection.
Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to tuberculosis is asked to call their health care provider or to call Contra Costa Health's TB Client Services Program at (925) 313-6740 if they are uninsured or need advice about the next steps.
More information about tuberculosis can be found by visiting http://cchealth.org/tb.
for more features.