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Texas TB Outbreaks

October 17, 2011 by staff 

Texas TB OutbreaksTexas TB Outbreaks, Outbreaks among young Texans of tuberculosis old enemy – often wrongly dismissed as a threat to health from long ago is now limited to the pages of a novel by Charles Dickens – show that even respiratory disease easily contracted and remains a potential threat to Americans, experts say.

“Tuberculosis has always been with us and probably always will be,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

At least 100 people have tested positive for tuberculosis (TB) skin testing in Ennis, Texas, about 40 miles south of Dallas, including several students at the local high school. The test was carried out after a teacher was diagnosed with tuberculosis before the start of the year.

And the University of North Texas in Denton – about 70 miles away – recommended that 27 people who had contact with a student diagnosed with a suspected case of TB also be tested, according to local press reports.

A student from Denton High School also has suspected tuberculosis after transfer of Ennis High, but health officials insist there is no link between the University of North Texas and Denton cases high.

“Tuberculosis is transmitted by respiratory droplet, coughing so, talk, sing, breathe, even sitting in front of someone on a plane” can put a person at risk, says Horovitz. “It is transmitted through the air, but must be within a certain range. It may be in the same room. It is very easy to contract.”

Although no longer the scourge of centuries past, about 11,000 cases of tuberculosis were reported last year in the United States, the lowest rate ever. California, Florida, New York and Texas together accounted for half of these cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“When we look at the populations most affected by TB – the racial / ethnic minorities and people born abroad – the two groups remain disproportionately affected despite the decline,” said Dr. Kenneth Castro, director of CDC Tuberculosis Elimination.

“Rates of tuberculosis of all racial / ethnic minorities are higher than those of whites – seven times higher for Hispanics, eight times higher for blacks, and 25 times higher for Asians,” he said. “Among the foreign-born individuals, tuberculosis rates are 11 times higher than among those born in the U.S.”

TB disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which usually attacks the lungs. However, the germ can attack any part of the body – such as the kidneys, spine and brain. And if not treated with proper medication, TB can be fatal, the CDC said.

The greatest risk for transmission among people living in the same household, as well as people in dormitories, barracks and other enclosed areas, said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, director of pediatrics and director of Research Center Vaccines in the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

Children and adolescents in schools are in an “intermediate risk”, he said.

The meeting with people on a bus, subway or plane is a less common mode of transmission, but can happen.

Just because someone has a positive tuberculin test does not mean they are infectious or ill, even though. It simply means that have been exposed to the bacteria that causes the disease. These people have a probability of 5 percent of patients during his life, said Bromberg.

And “a subset of people with positive skin tests could be contagious,” he said.

However, the germ is spread most often by people who have symptoms such as chronic cough or weight loss.

One concern has been the emergence of resistant strains resistant to multiple drugs or drugs for tuberculosis. These cases are more difficult to treat. Antibiotics are the usual course of treatment of tuberculosis is not.

Health experts TB infection divided into two categories: latent TB infection and full-blown disease. The CDC estimates that more than 11.2 million people in the United States are living with latent TB infection.

People with latent TB infection have the germ in their bodies but do not feel sick and have no symptoms because their immune systems keep the infection under control. The only sign of potential problems is a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or TB special blood test. People with latent TB are not contagious, can not transmit the disease and can not develop the disease. But if the germ becomes active and multiplies, TB disease can be, according to the CDC.

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