IDPH observing World TB Day; Notes increase in cases in 2015

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SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials announce the Department will be observing World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 to raise awareness about the disease in wake of an increase of cases in the past year.

TB is a contagious and potentially life-threatening disease that is transmitted from person-to-person through the air when a person with active TB coughs or sneezes. Health officials say people with TB are most likely to spread the germs to people they spend time with every day, such as family members or coworkers.

The disease can affect any part of the body, but it usually affects the lungs. General symptoms may include: fatigue, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Strains affecting the lungs can also cause a persistent cough that sometimes produce blood and chest pains.

In 2015, 344 cases of TB were reported in Illinois along with one case of extensively drug resistant TB.

Officials report that cases in 2015 saw a slight increase from 2014 and 2013. The trend over the past decade has been that cases in Illinois have been declining. This is the first year Illinois has reported an increase in the number of cases since 2005.

IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., says the case involving a drug resistant TB is especially concerning.

“Extensively drug resistant TB means that most antibiotics used to treat one of the world’s deadliest diseases do not work. IDPH wants to raise awareness about TB so that people recognize it and know the importance of completing treatment in order to prevent additional extensively drug resistant cases,” Shah explains.

TB can be treated by taking several drugs for 6 to 12 months. Health officials emphasize it is important for those affected by the disease to finish medication and take it exactly as prescribed. This emphasis is due to the fact that some patients stop taking their medication because they start to feel better.

Failing to follow proper drug regimens can lead to the TB returning and be resistant to the usual antibiotics.

More information about TB, as well as World TB Day, is available here.

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