SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - Health officials on Wednesday continued to investigate and monitor two active but no longer infectious cases of tuberculosis at Lake Tahoe's south shore.
The cases were diagnosed at Zephyr Cove in February and at South Lake Tahoe this month. A third case is suspected but unconfirmed at South Lake Tahoe.
Health officials say the cluster of cases isn't alarming.
"In terms of our numbers, we're still within our normal range," said Allyson Tabor, a public health nurse for El Dorado County. "The cases are not linked. All of the people were born and raised in other countries that have a lot of tuberculosis."
Tuberculosis is an airborne lung disease spread through person-to-person contact. If untreated, the bacterial infection can destroy lungs and cause death. California continues to experience the highest number of cases in the nation: 3,220 were reported in 2003, an increase of nearly 2 percent over 2002.
El Dorado County and Douglas County historically report a small number of cases each year. El Dorado County ranges from three to five cases a year, but last year no cases of tuberculosis were diagnosed.
Nevada had not had a diagnosed case of the disease for at least four years until one was detected last month at Zephyr Cove, said Vener DeFriez, state tuberculosis control program manager.
"The case does not pose a public threat," she said. "All the people exposed to this one case have already been tested and are being monitored."
Symptoms of active tuberculosis include loss of appetite, fatigue, chronic cough and night sweats, according to the El Dorado County Public Health Department. Ironically, Wednesday had been designated World TB Day.
Most people infected with the bacteria do not have active cases and are not contagious. Even if the infection is dormant, the disease can be eliminated with antibiotics.
El Dorado County provides tuberculosis skin tests for $19. People who come to the United States from Latin America, Russia, the Philippines or Cambodia should be tested.
For information, contact the El Dorado County Public Health Department at (530) 573-3155. Call the state tuberculosis coordinator for Nevada at (775) 684-5938.
Contact Gregory Crofton at tahoedailytribune.com