Health Department helps find and treat TB in Larimer County
Department: Health & Environment
Release Date: Mar 21, 2014
Many people think that TB is a disease of the past — an illness that no longer threatens us today. Yet, in Larimer County over the last 5 years, the Health Department’s TB program treated 16 cases of TB along with numerous contacts.
It’s a program that keeps busy, in partnership with local health care providers, assisting to promptly identify and treat latent (hidden) TB infection before it becomes active disease, as well as providing services for those suspected of having active TB disease.
To mark World TB Day on March 24, the TB program at the Health Department is reaching out to medical providers and the public with the message that TB still exists.
“For elimination of TB to happen we have to work together to find and treat those cases of latent TB infection before it leads to active TB disease,” said Linda Latelle, RN and coordinator of the Health Department’s TB program. According to Latelle, those at highest risk of contracting TB infection include: those who have had an exposure to someone with active TB disease, especially infants, children, adolescents and immune suppressed contacts; foreign-born persons from countries with high incidence of TB; people who have spent over 3 months in countries with high incidence of TB; residents and employees of high risk congregate settings such as homeless shelters, correctional facilities, long term care facilities, drug/alcohol treatment facilities; and those who inject illicit drugs and abuse other substances. In 2013, 80% of the TB disease cases in Colorado were in foreign-born individuals. Since 2009 in Larimer County, 100% of TB disease cases have been in foreign-born individuals or U.S.-born children of foreign-born individuals.
According to Latelle, approximately 5-10% of those who have latent TB infection will develop active TB disease at some time in their lives. She added that certain individuals who have latent TB infection are at greater risk of developing TB disease. Those include persons with: HIV infection, diabetes, immune suppression from medications, substance abuse, inadequate treatment for TB disease, other medical conditions such as end stage renal disease, organ transplant, and certain cancers. “That is why we encourage physicians to screen people with risk factors for TB,” she said.
The Health Department TB Program can screen those identified as candidates for testing at no cost. It also can provide no-cost services to anyone who is suspected to have active TB disease. The Health Department TB Program works with medical consultants to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment TB Program to provide TB management and control in our community
In 2012 there were approximately 10,000 cases of TB disease in the U.S. Approximately 4% of the U.S population is living with latent TB infection. And global statistics also show that TB continues to be one of the world’s deadliest diseases.
- One third of the world’s population is infected with TB.
- Each year, nearly 9 million people around the world become sick with TB.
- Each year, there are almost 2 million TB-related deaths worldwide.
- TB is the leading killer of people who are HIV infected.
“The theme of this year’s World TB Day is 'Find TB, Treat TB' said Latelle. We need to remember that TB is still with us. We can’t afford to be complacent. There is still work that needs to be done to eliminate this disease in our own community as well as throughout the world.”