Tuberculosis Cases Hit Record Low Despite Outbreak
March 24, 2011 - World Tuberculosis Day – TB Elimination;
Together We Can!
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In recognition of World Tuberculosis Day tomorrow, March 24, 2011, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), announced an all time low for the number of new tuberculosis (TB) cases in Illinois. Illinois is joining the World Tuberculosis Day global campaign, “TB elimination: Together We Can!” to raise awareness that the fight against tuberculosis is not over.
“Illinois experienced the lowest number of new tuberculosis cases during 2010, despite a tuberculosis outbreak,” Dr. Arnold said. “Although most of us don’t think about tuberculosis much thanks to the advances in medicine, this outbreak reminds us that TB is still circulating in Illinois. I urge all citizens to increase their awareness of tuberculosis and to join the global effort to stop the spread of this disease.”
Last year the Kane County Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health investigated a tuberculosis outbreak at a homeless shelter in Kane County in which 20 cases of TB were confirmed to be associated with the outbreak.
Tuberculosis is a contagious and potentially life-threatening disease that is transmitted from person to person by tiny airborne particles of bacteria. While it can affect any part of the body, such as the brain, kidneys or spine, tuberculosis usually affects the lungs. General symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, fever and night sweats. When tuberculosis attacks the lungs, symptoms can include a persistent cough that sometimes produces blood and chest pains.
In 2010, 372 cases of active tuberculosis were reported in Illinois, a decrease from 418 cases reported in 2009. The record low number of cases in Illinois can largely be attributed to making sure those with TB take all their medication, Directly Observed Therapy, and identifying those who have had contact with someone with TB and treating them for Latent Tuberculosis Infection.
Following the national trend, the majority of TB cases in Illinois are among individuals who were born in foreign countries where TB is common, such as Mexico, India and the Philippines. In 2010, 61 percent of tuberculosis cases in Illinois were among people born in foreign countries.
While tuberculosis is usually curable, a person with the disease must faithfully adhere to prescribed drug therapy for six months or longer. Many patients comply with the strict drug regimen at first, but some stop taking their anti-TB medication after they start to feel better. Failure to follow the therapy for the full length of time prescribed may allow the tuberculosis to return. In some cases, the re-established infection cannot be treated with the usual antibiotics.
The Illinois Department of Public Health, working in conjunction with local health departments, focuses on finding tuberculosis cases and making sure people are treated promptly and completely. IDPH also looks for people who have had close contact and been exposed to someone with tuberculosis to ensure treatment if they are infected, although not necessarily sick.
For more information on tuberculosis, log onto the Illinois Department of Public Health Web site at www.idph.state.il.us.