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Baltimore Waitress Spends Months In Isolation While Sick With Highly Contagious TB

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A local waitress comes down with a highly contagious disease. She’s now recovering and speaking out about what she’s gone through.

Derek Valcourt talked to the waitress about her seven-month long ordeal.

She’s only 20-years-old and already she’s fought a brutal battle with this dangerous and contagious disease.

“I liked being a Hooters girl,” Jheri Stratton said.

For months, Stratton donned the Hooters uniform as a waitress at the popular restaurant in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. And it’s here, she says, she contracted tuberculosis from an infected restaurant manager.

“I noticed that I was losing weight, I wasn’t eating as much as I used to. I was feeling nauseous a lot more,” she said.

Stratton began experiencing many of the common symptoms of tuberculosis including fevers, chills, night sweats and fatigue, but dismissed them as signs of a cold or flu. Her diagnosis didn’t come until November when the Baltimore City Health Department tested for tuberculosis.

“And that’s when they moved me from the emergency to an isolated room on my own,” she said.

Isolating tuberculosis patients is key because the disease is highly contagious. It often attacks the lungs first and if not treated it can be deadly.

That’s why city health officials sprang into action.

“We worked with the establishment and did a routine investigation and determined that there was no greater public health risk,” Oxiris Barbot, the Baltimore Commissioner of Health, said.

For it’s part, Hooters declined to talk about Stratton’s case.

In a written statement to WJZ, a spokesperson said: “Hooters of America fully cooperated with the Baltimore City Health Department investigation. Patrons of the restaurant were not at risk of contracting the disease.” They added, “The health and safety of our employees and guests are top priorities for Hooters.”

Stratton spent a month quarantined inside her own home. No visitors were allowed except for doctors who insisted on watching her consume her medications.

“It was pretty miserable,” she said.

For now that nausea won’t be going away. Stratton will have to keep taking her medications until August. She is scheduled for her next checkup in July.

Last month, Stratton won worker’s compensation from Hooters for lost wages and medical expenses. Her attorneys are looking into the possibility of future legal action.

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