PACHECO, Calif. (KGO) -- Contra Costa County public health officials are advising anyone who has spent time inside California Grand Casino in Pacheco since 2018 to consider getting a tuberculosis test after several related cases were recently revealed among staff and customers there.
"We're using this opportunity to spread information to those who might have been exposed so that they are able to access resources for testing and know what to do for the next steps to keep themselves healthy," County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Meera Sreenivasan said.
Contra Costa Health on Thursday said recent genetic testing revealed several linked cases among 11 confirmed TB cases, and the majority of them are associated with the casino located on Pacheco Boulevard.
County health officials say tuberculosis can live inside someone's body for months or years without causing any symptoms, but that symptoms of active TB include a persistent or bloody cough, fever, weight loss, night sweats and fatigue.
The health department has not identified a current source of TB transmission but is advising anyone who has visited the casino over the past five years to get tested.
"We are making this recommendation now because there is new evidence that TB may have spread among people who spent time at the casino from 2018 to 2023," Sreenivasan said. "TB can cause serious illness, but it is treatable and curable with medicine, especially when caught early."
The county has contacted more than 300 people who may have been exposed to active TB and is working with the casino to provide education to staff and to encourage testing.
"Overall risk in the community is low, but there are individuals who can become contagious and in an appropriate setting, which is an indoor setting, it does become easier for them to spread it to others," Sreenivasan said.
The casino is on a busy street in Pacheco, and several people tell us it's a place where the community comes together.
Because of that, a lot of the folks we talked to say they have concerns about the tuberculosis cases.
That includes Juan Gonzalez - who says he's been inside the casino several times over the past few years.
"I go in there to buy food, and the last time I was in there was about two weeks ago," he said.
Gonzalez says while he doesn't know much about tuberculosis, he wants to follow the official advice and get tested.
"That's news to me. I guess I should follow up with that then," Gonzalez said.
Others tell us they haven't been inside the casino for a while.
And for some, they plan to keep it that way.
"I wouldn't go in there any time soon, that's for sure," said nearby resident Stewart.
California Grand Casino spokesperson Becky Warren said in a statement, "Our foremost commitment is to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. According to Contra Costa Health, none of the linked cases are currently contagious, nor do they involve our staff. Additionally, Contra Costa Health has not identified any ongoing sources of transmission at the card room. We are actively collaborating with the county on notifications and testing to uphold public health and safety."
Health officials want anyone who has visited the casino, even if they're not showing symptoms, to test as well.
"We're strongly stressing that early detection of TB is very beneficial," Contra Costa Health Communicable Disease Program Chief Paul Leung said. "A latent TB infection is easier to treat and takes less time compared to active TB disease."
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