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Tuberculosis Outbreak in Alabama

The CDC calls tuberculosis one of the world’s deadliest diseases, and it is currently rearing its head in Alabama: 26 people are infected and three have died from the infection, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The following are five things to know about TB and the current outbreak in Alabama.

1. As of January 2014, 26 people, including four children, have been diagnosed with TB, and three adults have died. Most cases are from Marion, Ala., a town in Perry County with 3,600 residents. There, the TB case rate is 253 per 100,000 population, far exceeding the TB case rate of 2.5 per 100,000 in the whole state of Alabama last year.

2. The Alabama Department of Public Health has sent nurses and TB investigators to Marion to find patients with TB and provide preventative therapy to people who may have been exposed to the illness.

3. The ADPH plans to pay people to come in and get screened for the illness. “This is so important and of such concern that we are giving monetary incentives to people who come in for screening and necessary treatment,” Pam Barrett, director of the division of TB control, said in a statement. In an interview with Becker’s, Ms. Barrett noted that the ADHP has “never done this before.”

4. Paid screenings will be available Jan. 11 through Jan. 29 at the Perry County Health Department. People will be paid $20 for getting an initial screening, an additional $20 if they come back to get the result and a third $20 if they keep a recommended chest X-ray appointment. A final $100 will be offered to people if they complete any recommended treatment. Ms. Barrett says they expect a large turnout.

5. The outbreak is believed to have originated from one or two active TB cases in the area from early 2014, according to Ms. Barrett.

Article by: Heather Punke

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