Kane likely losing federal, state TB funds

Updated 8/29/2012 5:27 AM

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control cited Kane County's approach to dealing with a tuberculosis outbreak at an Aurora homeless shelter as a model to follow.

But the Kane County Board's public health committee learned Tuesday that the federal and state money it has used the last two years to fight TB will soon disappear.

During a presentation on the proposed 2013 public health department budgets, interim director Barbara Jeffers shared the news that it likely won't be getting supplemental grants from the feds and the Illinois Department of Public Health. This year, the county received $213,385 for the TB fight.

It used the money to contract out testing and treatment services. That work will have to be done next year by county employees, she said. Less money will be spent on contractual services, but more will be spent on supplies, including needles and masks, and on mileage, as employees will be driving to visit patients. The money will come from cash reserves, Jeffers said.

To meet the goal of having a flat budget on the expenditure side, "the significant tuberculosis outbreak requires a focus on resource allocation and risk management," the budget report states.

The department is dealing with two new cases of tuberculosis, bringing the total in the Aurora outbreak to about 30 confirmed cases of active TB. Treatment can take from two to five years, depending on how ill the patient is, Jeffers said.

In March 2012, the CDC estimated Kane County had spent $204,500 to treat 24 patients with active TB since the outbreak was identified in 2010. It has been traced back to a 2007 case. All the patients either stayed at the shelter or were in close contact with shelter guests.

Recently, Aurora Public Library staff were tested for tuberculosis, after a patron who spent a lot of time there this summer was confirmed to have the disease. It is not known yet if the patron had ties to Hesed House.

Hesed House is installing an improved ventilation system to reduce the risk of exposure. Guests with the disease are also subject to quarantine off-site. If they are quarantined, the county pays for their housing and food. There was at least one latent case of TB where the county had to visit the person daily to make sure they took their medication.

As of July 31, the health department had provided 1,010 incidents of tuberculosis treatment services countywide; at that point in 2011, it had only provided 569 treatments.

Overall, the health budget calls for $5.43 million in spending, compared to a 2012 budget of $5.54 million.

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