In recognition of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is encouraging those who are in high-risk groups or provide services to those in high-risk groups to be screened for TB.
These high-risk groups include:
• Those who have had close contact with persons known or suspected of having TB disease.
• Those foreign born where TB has a high prevalence, such as countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Or individuals who travel to those areas.
• Residents and employees of high-risk congregate settings, such as nursing homes, mental health institutions, homeless shelters, alcohol and drug treatment centers, and other long-term care facilities.
• Medically under-served or low-income populations with risk factors.
• High-risk racial or ethnic minorities, such as Asians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans and migrant workers.
• Children exposed to adults in high-risk groups.
• Persons who inject illicit drugs.
• Those recently infected with TB, or who have a history of inadequate TB treatment.
• Those who have HIV infection or another condition that suppresses the immune system and therefore puts them at high risk for TB disease if exposed.
• Health care workers who serve high-risk clients such as those mentioned above.
"While people tend to forget about TB these days, it is still a worldwide epidemic affecting more than 8 million people every year," said Irene Pierce, the Health Department's Executive Director. "An entirely drug resistant strain of TB was found in India. We still need to be very vigilant about this disease on local and international levels."
It is important to get tested for TB, especially if you are at high risk. Although both preventable and curable, each year nearly two million people die of the disease. TB disease is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria can attack any part of your body, but they usually attack the lungs. When first infected with the TB organism, people usually do not feel sick or have any symptoms. However, they may develop active TB disease in the future. A positive skin test indicates the patient may have been exposed to the bacteria that causes TB; it doesn't necessarily indicate active TB disease.
There are, on average, 16 active cases reported each year in Lake County. Most of these individuals came from groups considered high risk. The Health Department's TB program provides a variety of clinic-based services, such as TB skin tests (5,791 received skin tests in 2012), X-rays, medications, physician evaluation and consultation, and health education. Staff members also identify, find and treat the family members and
other contacts of persons with TB disease. Such efforts help prevent the transmission of tuberculosis into the community.
The Health Department's TB clinic is located at 515 Keller Avenue in Waukegan. Operating hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. No skin tests are available on Thursdays. Chest X-rays are done by appointment only. For more information about TB services, visit: http://health.lakecountyil.gov/Population/Pages/Tuberculosis-Clinic.aspx, or call: (847) 377-8700.