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Health Officials confirmed that one active case of tuberculosis has been found in Doddridge County.  Doddridge County Health Department working in conjunction with the Harrison County Health Department are working to track the illness and any contacts made by the individual.

The Doddridge County Health Department have developed a list of those who may have had contact with the individual.  Those on the list have been notified they should be tested.

Some have been tested, but the Health Departments have found no other confirmed cases. The departments are working in conjunction with the state Division of Health and Human Resources’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination.

There are chest and diagnostic X-ray procedures set up at the department. Some people may react to testing even if they don’t have it, that is why they do the X-ray.

If they happen to come across any additional case through the current investigation, a new contact list will be created and the process will start all over again with that individuals contacts.

Understanding TB

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.  

How TB Spreads

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is more prominent in China and other eastern countries.  Care should be taken when traveling abroad.  High concentration population areas are breeding grounds for TB and should be avoided.

TB is NOT spread by:

shaking someone’s hand

sharing food or drink

touching bed linens or toilet seats

sharing toothbrushes

kissing

Latent TB Infection and TB Disease

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and TB disease.

Latent TB Infection

TB bacteria can live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection. In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. People with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, the person will go from having latent TB infection to being sick with TB disease.

TB Disease

TB bacteria become active if the immune system can’t stop them from growing. When TB bacteria are active (multiplying in your body), this is called TB disease. People with TB disease are sick. They may also be able to spread the bacteria to people they spend time with every day.

Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease. Some people develop TB disease soon after becoming infected (within weeks) before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick years later when their immune system becomes weak for another reason.

For people whose immune systems are weak, especially those with HIV infection, the risk of developing TB disease is much higher than for people with normal immune systems.

Symptoms of TB disease include:

a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer

pain in the chest

coughing up blood or sputum

weakness or fatigue

weight loss

no appetite

chills

fever

sweating at night

Testing for TB Infection

There are two kinds of tests that are used to detect TB bacteria in the body: the TB skin test (TST) and TB blood tests. These tests can be given by a health care provider or local health department. If you have a positive reaction to either of the tests, you will be given other tests to see if you have latent TB infection or TB disease.

Treatment for Latent TB Infection

If you have latent TB infection but not TB disease, your health care provider may want you be treated to keep you from developing TB disease. Treatment of latent TB infection reduces the risk that TB infection will progress to TB disease. Treatment of latent TB infection is essential to controlling and eliminating TB in the United States. The decision about taking treatment for latent TB infection will be based on your chances of developing TB disease.

Treatment for TB Disease

TB disease can be treated by taking several drugs, usually for 6 to 9 months. It is very important to finish the medicine, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed. If you stop taking the drugs too soon, you can become sick again. If you do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to treat.

This case has come about during a recurrent tuberculin skin test shortage. Health departments are required to keep a stockpile of these tests for emergency situations such as this one.

Each state must have a TB control office in case of suspected infections, according to the Center for Disease Control.  Our state TB Control Office is: West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, TB Control Program, Room 125, 350 Capitol Street, Charleston, WV 25301-1417.  They can be reached at 304-558-3669.  If you think you have been in contact with someone who has TB, contact you local Health Department or primary physician first.

The Doddridge County Health Department can be reached at 873-1531.