World TB Day - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

World TB Day

WICHITA FALLS, TX -

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tuberculosis kills 4,000 people a day worldwide, and with many people infected with TB and not aware of it, the spread of the disease is on the rise.
Ashley Hammond, Tuberculosis Public Health Nurse, said education is key and is why World TB Day is so important.
Officials from the CDC report 9.6 million people were infected with TB globally in 2014.
The number of latent cases are contributing to this wide spread epidemic.  

        “Those who have latent TB don't know they have it. They're not sick, don't have symptoms, and are not contagious. However, they’re becoming active later on in life, and they have no idea they are exposing others,” said Hammond.
Only 10 percent of latent cases become active, but Hammond said if you are developing symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe cough for more than three weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Extreme weight loss

Also, if you know someone who has TB, you should get tested.
There are two types of testing for tuberculosis: a skin test and a blood test. The blood test is for those who have a higher risk of contracting the disease.
Those at a higher risk are health care workers, clients of homeless shelters, people with weak immune systems and those with HIV.  

The disease is curable as long as it is caught early and is preventable while tested and treated in the latent stage.

However, these tests do not determine if TB is latent or active.
Hammond said TB is not spread by sharing drinks, food or shaking someone’s hand, and you usually get it from someone you spend a lot of time with.
        “Whenever they have active tuberculosis and whenever they cough, that's when the droplets become airborne and someone else can breathe it in,” said Hammond.

Treatment for tuberculosis consists of a strict regimen of antibiotics, depending on the patients health.
Treating latent TB can last three to nine months by taking one pill a day.
For active TB, multiple medications are taken for a year or longer.
Hammond said the best way to prevent TB is getting tested and treated while in the latent stage.

Officials with the Wichita County Public Health District said Wichita Falls has seen a decline in TB cases, but they continue to reach out to the community to provide information about the disease and even do target testing at local shelters for free.

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