King County tries to control TB
King County has one of the highest tuberculosis infection rates in the nation, according to a new report by the county health department.
In 2010, King County’s infection rate, at 5.9 residents per 100,000, was one and one half times the national rate of 3.6 per 100,000, and the Washington state rate of 3.5.
People of color are disproportionately impacted by the disease, as are those born outside the U.S. According to the report, 84 percent of infected individuals in King County were born outside of the U.S., primarily Southeast Asia and India, East Africa and Central America.
Caused by a bacterium, TB often involves the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can infect almost any organ in the body. Because the infection causes a dramatic wasting, or apparent consumption, of the body, TB was once called consumption.
Although TB is treated with ordinary antibiotics, the disease is getting more difficult to control. Nearly one in five people treated for active TB in King County are resistant to at least one medication, and two people had multi-drug resistant infections.
Public health workers identified 114 active cases of the disease in 2010 and provided treatment and/or evaluation to more than 1,100 King County residents who live with active or dormant TB.
In 2010, the TB program tested more than 450 close contacts of people with active TB and found that nearly one-quarter were infected with dormant (or latent) TB.
Worldwide, about two million die from TB every year, and it is estimated that about one-third of the population is infected.
To view the 2010 summary data and for more information on Public Health’s TB Control Program and activities, visit: kingcounty.gov/health/tb.
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