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Penn. Senate Warned of Possible Prison TB Epidemic

Tuberculosis may spread from state prisons and become Pennsylvania's number one health concern if officials fail to implement proper controls, a witness told a state Senate committee last November in Harrisburg.

ACLU lawyer Stephan Presser said the recent discovery that nearly one-quarter of the inmates at Graterford Prison in Philadelphia tested positive for TB is a serious threat to public safety. There are 4,100 men at Graterford. Some 966 prisoners, or 23 percent of the population, tested positive on PPD skin tests during three days of testing. "No other prison has ever turned up such a rate of TB," he said.

A corrections Department spokesman Ben Livingood called Presser's comments "inflammatory rhetoric," and that there was no cause for alarm. Another prison spokesperson, Alan LeFebvre, said information from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention in Atlanta shows that on average, between 18 and 23 percent of prison inmates in the country will test positive in skin tests for TB. "The bottom line," LeFebvre said, is that "we haven't come up with anyone with tuberculosis."
Corrections Digest

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