Mower County health officials have been conducting tuberculosis tests at the Hormel Foods plant in Austin, Minn., after a worker was diagnosed with an active case of the infectious disease last week.

The county's "contact investigation" included testing the employee's immediate family and co-workers in the same section of the Hormel plant, said Lisa Kocer, community health administrator for Mower County Public Health.

No one else has tested positive for the disease, which typically attacks the lungs and results in a variety of severe respiratory problems.

Both the county and Hormel stressed that transmission of tuberculosis is person-to-person, and that the worker's illness presented no risk to the food produced at the plant.

The infection was discovered after the worker sought medical care for symptoms, Kocer said. She declined to provide the gender or age of the worker because of confidentiality concerns. The worker has been treated and is recovering, she said.

Tuberculosis is one of a group of diseases that are closely monitored by the state because it is highly infectious and potentially fatal.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 96 cases of tuberculosis in the state from January through August. All but 17 were reported in the Twin Cities metro area; most involved people born in other countries where the risk of transmission is greater.

Most of the cases were detected when patients went to their doctors with symptoms, which can include cough, fever, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Less than 10 percent of cases are discovered through contact investigations. Another one in 10 are found through standard health screening of refugees moving to the state.