For Immediate Release
KDHE Office of Communications
March 24 is World TB Day. On this day in 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacteria that causes TB, and later was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905. While TB rates in Kansas and the United States are very low, TB is still a significant health threat to most of the world’s population. And although there was a slight increase in cases in 2006, TB rates in Kansas are still well below the national rate.
“The TB cases we see in Kansas today are often more complex than in the past, but we have excellent health care providers who collaborate with us to control TB,” said Phil Griffin, TB Controller with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
Griffin said that an increase drug resistance in some TB cases, along with the tendency of TB to be present in people who also have other chronic illnesses such as HIV, has made treating and curing TB more complicated.
KDHE statistics show 82 new TB cases reported statewide in 2006. This is up from 60 in 2005, but within the range of 60 to 89 cases that have been reported annually over the past five years. Sedgwick County reported the most new cases in 2006, with 25. Wyandotte County reported 10 new cases, and Johnson and Shawnee each reported eight. No other county reported more than four cases in 2006.
Five of the new cases statewide also had HIV, although HIV does not cause TB. Nine cases were reported among people age 65 and older, and one case was reported in a person under age 20. Twenty-four cases were among persons of all races who claimed Hispanic ethnicity.TB is an infectious disease that is spread through the air when a person with active TB disease coughs or sneezes. Although it usually attacks the lungs, TB can also affect the brain, kidneys, intestines, eyes, bones and joints. Symptoms include a bad cough lasting longer than two weeks, shortness of breath, chest pains, fever, fatigue and weight loss. TB can lie dormant indefinitely before symptoms become apparent. Only about 10 percent of people infected with TB will develop the disease. TB can be treated and cured with prescribed antibiotics.
TB can infect anyone, but is more common in developing countries where poor sanitation, cramped living conditions and lower availability of medial care facilitate the spread of disease. Statistics indicate that TB cases in Kansas and the United States are linked to immigrant populations. Sixty-two percent of the cases reported in Kansas in 2006 were among foreign-born individuals.
For more information about the Kansas Tuberculosis Control Program, please visit www.kdhe.state.ks.us/tb/.