Report Shows Increase in Tuberculosis Cases in Contra Costa County
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
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Following a historic low of 33 in 2010, cases of active tuberculosis increased to 60 in Contra Costa County last year, according to a new report from Contra Costa Health Services issued in advance of World Stop TB Day on March 24.
Although the number of cases increased in 2011, it actually represents a return to a more usual level for the county. The report raises concerns about the development of four pediatric cases in 2011. Tuberculosis cases involving children generally indicate recent transmission in the household. There were no cases of pediatric tuberculosis in 2010.
Tuberculosis is an airborne bacterial disease that generally attacks the lungs. Tuberculosis bacteria can sit dormant in a person's body for months or years before becoming active, potentially causing the person to become contagious or seriously ill.
A decade of declining tuberculosis cases in Contra Costa may be ending, according to Dr. Charles Crane, Medical Director for Health Services' Tuberculosis Program. "Clearly, a number of challenges remain if we want to continue reducing, or eventually eliminate, tuberculosis," Dr. Crane said. "It is vital that we maintain support for TB programs so that we could stop local transmission by ensuring people with TB symptoms receive prompt medical attention and early diagnosis." Crane added his program works with TB patients and their providers to ensure treatment is completed, which can take six months or longer.
Tuberculosis usually begins with a persistent cough that can last weeks or longer, eventually accompanied by unintentional weight loss, fever and night sweats. People with these symptoms should contact their health care provider right away, according to Dr. Crane.
Nearly half, 29, of the tuberculosis cases occurred in West County, according to the report. Additionally, 49 cases were among people born outside of the United States and who may have been exposed in their home country.
Dr. Crane will also be participating at the Northern California Regional World TB Day Event at 976 Lenzen Avenue, Park Alameda Room, 1st Floor, San Jose, CA 95126 at 10:30 a.m. March 22. To find out more about tuberculosis in Contra Costa or to read the complete report, visit www.cchealth.org/topics/tb/
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- Dr. Charles Crane
- Tuberculosis Program Medical Director