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FAA confirms El Paso employee diagnosed with tuberculosis

EL PASO, Texas -- The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed a technician at the agency's El Paso office, which includes the air traffic control tower and terminal radar approach control, tested positive for tuberculosis.

The FAA told KFOX14 in a statement the case was confirmed Jan. 9, and employees were briefed the same day. The FAA also said the employee with TB is currently under medical care and will not return to work without permission.

About 50 employees could be affected.

However, El Paso County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said people can't catch TB after just being exposed to a few coughs from someone contagious.

"There has to be a prolonged and continuous exposure to people to really transmit the tuberculosis," Ocaranza said.

Ocaranza gives medical advice to the El Paso Health Department.

Ocaranza also said TB is not a rare disease.

"It is still existent in the United States. It is more common in developing countries, and we're seeing it more and more because of immigration," Ocaranza said.

The FAA also said it is working with the Texas Department of State Health Services to determine whether any other employees at the facility might have been exposed.

"As a precaution, we have urged employees to consult with their regular family physicians," the FAA said in its statement.

"The contagiousness or infectiousness of the patient depends on the person infected, depends on the bacteria, whether it's resistant or not to the medication, and it all depends on the compliance of the patient to the treatment," Ocaranza said.

Ocaranza also said TB can be a latent disease in some people, meaning it doesn't show symptoms. He said a small percentage of those people can start seeing symptoms over time.



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