For Immediate Release
Joe Blubaugh, 785-296-5795
Tuberculosis (TB) cases in Kansas decreased to the lowest count in recent years, with 59 reported active disease cases in 2007 compared to 82 in 2006. 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. March 24 is World TB Day and is intended to raise awareness about the disease.
“It is crucial that we continue to be vigilant and aware of the risk of TB, but we should not be alarmed or in fear,” said Phil Griffin, TB Controller with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “The cases today are more complex to treat because of an increase in co-infection with HIV and other chronic illnesses, and an increase in drug resistance. However, we have excellent health care providers in Kansas that partner with public health professionals to work to control the disease.”
TB is an infectious disease that is spread through the air when a person with active TB disease coughs or sneezes. Disease transmission occurs when a person inhales expelled particles into their lungs.
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. It is estimated that only 10 percent of the individuals infected with TB will actually develop the disease.
TB can infect anyone, but is more common in developing countries, where poor sanitation, cramped living conditions and lower availability of medical care facilitate the spread of the disease. Statistics indicate that growing numbers of TB cases in Kansas and the United States are linked to immigrant populations. Sixty-four percent of the cases diagnosed in Kansas in 2007 were among foreign-born individuals.
For more information about KDHE’s Tuberculosis Control Program, please visit www.kdheks.gov/.