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6,000 on Navy Ship Will Get TB Tests

July 23, 2006|Tony Perry | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — The Navy has decided to conduct tuberculosis tests on all 4,800 crew members and 1,200 civilians who were recently aboard the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan after an initial round of tests showed many crew members tested positive for the disease, officials said Saturday.

The first round of tests was ordered after a sailor was diagnosed with active tuberculosis. The ship returned to San Diego on July 6 after a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. Officials tested 776 crew members and civilians who were thought to have had contact with the sailor. Positive results showed up in 4.4% of them.

Capt. Frank Chapman, a Navy doctor, said the Reagan's commanding officer, Capt. Terry Kraft, ordered the entire crew and all passengers screened for TB in order to "identify everyone who may have been infected and begin any necessary treatment."

The Navy hopes to have the tests completed by Friday. None of those who tested positive show active signs of TB and none are contagious, Chapman said.

The unidentified 32-year-old sailor with active TB was treated at San Diego Naval Medical Center and is recuperating at home. He was part of a flight squadron and not involved in food preparation, Chapman said.

The 1,200 civilians were family members and guests who joined the ship in Hawaii for the voyage to San Diego. Those selected for the initial tests had been assigned to the same sleeping quarters as the sailor.

Typically, someone who tests positive for TB is treated with a six-month schedule of medication. Less than 1% of people who test positive develop the active disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Navy conducts annual TB tests for all sailors who have been assigned to ships, where sleeping and working quarters are cramped and infections can spread.

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