2 Cases of Tuberculosis in Macon County

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DECATUR - Tuberculosis is right here in Central Illinois.  There are, now, two confirmed cases of the infectious disease in Macon County.  The Macon County Health Department  made the announcement Wednesday morning.  One of the cases was at St. Mary's Hospital in Decatur.

"From the E. R., we knew this looked suspicious for TB," said Dr. Jignesh Modi.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that attacks the body's organs, usually the lungs, producing severe symptoms.

"Fever.  Chills.  Weight loss."

Tuberculosis spreads through the air when someone infected coughs or sneezes.  The Macon County Health Department is testing Dr. Modi and others who came in contact with one of the infected people.

"They will look at where the patient is coming from," said Dr. Modi.  "Where the patient is living.  Whoever has been exposed to that patient in that location.  From that moment, every single person who has been exposed will be screened."

Dianna Heyer, a nurse at the Macon County Health Department, says, "If they have a positive TB skin test, then we will get some history from them, find out if they're having any symptoms."

Because you aren't contagious unless you're showing symptoms.

"The tests that we are doing right now are to see if we've been exposed to TB bacilli or not," said Dr. Modi.  "It does not mean we have active tuberculosis."

According to Heyers, "Most people do not have active TB.  They might have something called latent TB, which means the germ is in their body, but it's not doing anything.  It's just there."

Dr. Modi says most of our  immune systems are able to fight TB bacteria so we do not feel sick or have symptoms, keeping it harmless and easy to treat .  But, sometimes our immune systems aren't strong enough and the bacteria becomes active.  History shows that the Macon County Health Department does a good job at making sure active TB doesn't spread.

"In our county, we've had one case a year for the last four years," said Heyer.

The two confirmed patients are currently undergoing treatment and the people they've been in contact with since showing symptoms are not only being routinely tested, but are taking medicine to keep the bacteria at bay if there's any at all.  The two confirmed patients could be isolated and on medication for up to 9 months before treatment is complete.  If you think you're showing symptoms, the Macon County Health Department offers TB testing to the public.

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