The discovery of a case of tuberculosis earlier this month Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas led the authorities to begin intensive testing for the infection among school staff and students. Unfortunately, health officials announced on Wednesday that twenty-seven of the three hundred people tested were shown positive for tuberculosis.
Although there were hopes that no one else got sick, the figure is not really alarming according to Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. “The number of individuals with TB infection does not exceed what we would anticipate in this setting,” Marsh said.
While people who showed no sign of infection were noticed through mail, health officials began since Monday to call those who tested positive. Employees from the Department of Health and Environment are prepared to undergo another round of testing, scheduled for May 5, but officials said it may take up to almost two months for tuberculosis to show up positive in a test.
Kansas is no stranger to tuberculosis, although each year authorities rose up to the task. Forty cases of tuberculosis were discovered in the state last year, while two years ago thirty-six people were diagnosed with the bacteria, from 9,582 cases registered cases countrywide.
Tuberculosis used to be a much more serious danger in the United States in the past, but the number slowly went down each year. The infection is almost ten times less encountered nowadays then it was in 1953, when 84,304 contacted the disease.
The bacteria responsible for tuberculosis is a pathogen called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Sides effects if the infections consist of respiratory complications resulting in coughing, coughing blood, pain while breathing, fatigue, fever, weight loss, organ damage and if left untreated eventually death.
According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis is one of the “greatest killer worldwide” because of a single infection, outpaced only by HIV/AIDS. Nine million people got tuberculosis last year, leaving 1.5 million dead from the infection.
A vaccine for tuberculosis has been researched, but is usually administered to small children in countries where the infection frequently reappears, like Brazil, Cambodia or Afghanistan. However, the condition can evolve into a drug-resisting variety, if those who contact it begin the antibiotics treatment but do not finish it. Europe has reportedly registered a rising number of such cases.
Health officials in the US claim however that because tuberculosis is a very slow-growing organism, no special security measures have to be taken. Only ten percent of those contacting the infection actually end up developing the disease, and this gives Kansas authorities enough time to keep a potential epidemic under control.
Image Source: Kansas City Star
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