Tuberculosis tests negative at Myrtle Beach homeless shelter

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - State health officials that tested Myrtle Beach individuals frequenting the Street Reach Ministries homeless shelter for tuberculosis report those tests were negative.

The state says someone who stayed at the facility sometime between April 26 and May 17 tested positive for tuberculosis.

In an abundance of caution, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control tested everyone who spent time there for the disease.

DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley says they drew 183 blood tests at the shelter. Eight of them tested positive for TB infection - indicating they were exposed to the germ that causes the disease - but no one has developed the disease.

He says it is impossible to determine if these individuals were exposed to the germ at the shelter or elsewhere.

Beasley adds that several of those who visit the shelter were sent to the hospital for x-rays. All 27 chest x-rays reviewed were free of tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection easily spread by breathing the air of someone who has it. Last year there were nine confirmed cases in Horry County.

Grand Strand Regional Medical Center says there have been two confirmed cases of the illness so far in 2013. In Greenwood County health officials have been dealing with an outbreak at a primary school where 74 people have tested positive so far.

The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control doesn't know if the case at Street Reach is related, but they're taking precautions.

"It's possible people could be exposed and don't know it because with most people the germ lies dormant," says Jim Beasley, the spokesman for DHEC.

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