Point Defiance Zoo staff members test positive for tuberculosis

SEATTLE – Several staff members at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma have been exposed to latent tuberculosis, the zoo said Wednesday.

The staff members tested positive for the disease and have worked with the zoo's two elephants in the Asian Forest Sanctuary. The elephants are being evaluated for the disease.

While the zookeepers tested positive to latent tuberculosis, the zoo says none of them are showing signs of an active infection. Officials add that no visitors came into direct contact with the animals, and a public safety risk is unlikely.

“Tuberculosis is not easy to get and requires close, prolonged contact with active cases,” said Matthew Rollosson, a nurse with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Because the elephants are in an outside area during their public viewing time, we are not concerned about exposure risk to the public.”

The zoo says that safety precautions have been made around the exhibit to protect visitors.