Pontiac, Michigan -- Oakland County Health Division reminds residents that tuberculosis (TB) remains prevalent but can be eliminated as part of the global Stop TB Partnership’s World TB Day on Saturday, March 24th.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one-third of the world's population or about 2 billion people are infected with tuberculosis. In 2010, nearly 9 million people progressed to the active form of the disease and became sick with TB resulting in 1.4 million TB-related deaths. In 2011, the Oakland County Health Division administered 14,484 TB skin tests and identified and treated 22 active TB cases as well as the contacts that were infected.
"Tuberculosis is the second leading killer of adults in the world and remains a serious public health threat," said Dr. Pamela Hackert, Oakland County's chief of medical services. "But Oakland County, through effective screening and management of diagnosed cases of TB, is working to prevent the spread of the disease."
In addition to providing treatment for both tuberculosis infection and active tuberculosis disease, the Health Division provides low-cost TB skin testing on a walk-in basis at Health Division offices in Pontiac and Southfield, on the following days:
• Monday, Noon – 8:00 p.m.
• Tuesday & Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
• Friday, Noon – 5:00 p.m.
"Everyone should know the symptoms of TB and understand that the disease is still spread in the United States," Hackert said. "We have antibiotics that eliminate the infection before it becomes full blown disease. This stops both the health threat to the person and eliminates the risk of spreading the infection to others."
Tuberculosis is spread through the air from one person to another, much like the more common respiratory illnesses such as a cold or flu. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. A person with active TB disease will infect about 15 people a year. The numbers multiply quickly if the disease is not diagnosed and treated. TB is not spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, or kissing. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, bones, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
Symptoms of TB disease include:
• A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
• Chest pain
• Coughing up blood or phlegm
• Weight loss
• Fever or sweating at night
In the late 1800’s, TB killed one out of seven people living in the United States and Europe. Since that time, public health measures have made great strides to control the disease. World TB Day is held every year on March 24th to commemorate the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB. This was the first step toward diagnosing and developing a cure for tuberculosis. The goal of World TB Day is educating the public about the devastating health and economic outcomes of TB and addressing its continued impact on global health.
For more information about World TB Day, Oakland County Health Division TB skin testing and other related services, go to www.oakgov.com/health
For media inquiries only, contact Oakland County's Chief of Medical Services Dr. Pamela Hackert at 248-858-1409.