BENTON, Ill. -- Dozens of workers at the Franklin County courthouse and the county jail were tested for tuberculosis after a robbery suspect became unresponsive while in custody and later died after apparently contracting the disease, authorities said.
Sheriff Bill Wilson said all the inmates at the county jail, 50 department employees and more than a dozen courthouse employees were tested, including judges and court reporters.
Wilson said he spoke with officials in Missouri as soon as he learned that Anthony Snyder of Benton had died at Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau.
"I spoke with the pathologist and he's nearly certain that he died of infectious tuberculosis," Wilson said.
Cape Girardeau County Coroner Mike Hurst said preliminary tests indicate that Snyder had tuberculosis, but it is still not clear if that was what killed him.
Hurst said testing people who may have been in contact with Snyder would "protect the health of everybody in the community."
The testing was being done by the Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department.
Snyder was arrested on Oct. 13, 2002, for allegedly robbing a convenience store and a restaurant in Benton.
He was unresponsive when he was taken by ambulance from the county jail to Franklin Hospital last Sunday afternoon. He was later transferred to Southeast Missouri Hospital, where he died on Wednesday.
Wilson said Snyder had been in the general population at the jail for several months and became noticeably ill during a court appearance last week.
Tuberculosis is a potentially life-threatening disease transmitted by tiny airborne particles of bacteria.