ELYRIA — The county is looking for ways to pay for the medical treatment of an Elyria man diagnosed with tuberculosis after learning that the homeless man has been living under a crawl space at a downtown bar, Pudge’s Place.
County Administrator Jim Cordes said because those with tuberculosis must be closely monitored, the county may have to pay for a place to house the homeless man during his treatment. Those with TB must take medication and be quarantined from the general public for some time and, because the man doesn’t have a home, that could prove difficult, he said.
“It’s going to be a long process to keep him on his meds,” Cordes said.
Currently, the man is receiving treatment at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, and he is expected to make a full recovery.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, typical TB treatment takes six to 12 months. If a person stops taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again. If they do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs.
The county used to have its own tuberculosis clinic and still has a levy to pay for treatment, but since TB has been rare, the county contracted its services to the Mercy TB Clinic in Lorain to save costs. The county hasn’t determined how much the man’s treatment may cost.
Cordes said there have been a few people diagnosed with TB throughout the years, but this case is the most unusual.
“This is the most significant outbreak we’ve seen,” he said.
Thirty-three people were tested for tuberculosis Tuesday after patrons of Pudge’s Place and Boomers Bar were informed that they may have been exposed to the disease.
Test results won’t be available for a few days, said LeeAnn Hastings, spokeswoman for Mercy. She said additional tests will likely be given at both establishments in eight to 10 weeks, as a precautionary measure.
The Mercy TB Clinic sent out a press release Tuesday indicating that the man, who was a frequent patron of both bars, had been diagnosed with active tuberculosis. Those who may have had contact with him at those bars were asked to be tested.
Free testing was conducted at Pudge’s Place and Boomers Bar on Tuesday.
The disease could be deadly if untreated, but most of those affected by it can be cured, according to Mercy. The Mercy TB Clinic, with the help of the Ohio Department of Health, is working to contain the disease.
The Mercy TB Clinic is still encouraging those who visited one or both bars from Dec. 1 through April 9 to be tested.
Free testing will be offered at the Mercy TB Clinic, 1800 Livingston Ave., Building B, Suite 318, in Lorain. Tests will be administered 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, and they will be read 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.
According to data from the Ohio Department of Health, there were 148 total cases of TB in 2013, one of which was in Lorain County. From 2009 to 2013, there were an average of 3.6 confirmed cases in Lorain County.