About 30 seafood workers in Grasonville, Md., who had positive reactions to a test for tuberculosis will take medication for the disease after one worker died and two others were diagnosed as having the illness.
The seafood workers, employed as oyster and clam shuckers at B&S Fisheries, underwent chest X-rays last week. They are to take medication for a year to treat the disease regardless of whether the X-rays show they have it, said Dr. Robert Duvall, state health official for Queen Anne's County.
Duvall stressed that there is no health threat to the public, even though those infected have handled food. Even should tuberculosis germs touch the seafood, the germs would not survive, he said. A positive reaction to the tuberculosis skin test does not mean the disease is active. In most cases, Duvall said, the germ remains dormant.
Health officials say poor living conditions and ways of life among workers, some of whom are transient, tend to increase their chances of contracting the disease.
Local health officials are to meet with state health officers this week to decide whether other seafood workers in the area, including those at several other packing houses, should undergo testing.
While the disease was a major killer 50 years ago, deaths due to tuberculosis have become rare since drugs were discovered to treat it more than 30 years ago.