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1.5 million people died each year from Tuberculosis say local experts in SoCal

One of the most deadly diseases concerning local health officials is Tuberculosis. It is very contagious. It is commonly known as TB, it is a bacterial infection that can spread through the lymph nodes and bloodstream to any organ in your body. It is most often found in the lungs. Most people who are exposed to TB never develop symptoms because the bacteria can live in an inactive form in the body. But if the immune system weakens, such as in people with HIV or elderly adults, TB bacteria can become active. In their active state, TB bacteria cause death of tissue in the organs they infect. Active TB disease can be fatal if left untreated

OAKLAND, CA - A nurse at the La Clinica San Antonio Neighborhood Health Center wears a N95 respiratory mask during a training session in Oakland, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“Each year more than 1.5 million people die from Tuberculosis,” said Peter R. Kerndt, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of the California Tuberculosis Association. Dr. Kerndt heads 60 jurisdictions of the TB control regions in Southern California. “30 percent of the world population is infected with Tuberculosis and 20 percent of the nation’s cases occurred here in California he said, while attending 48th CTCA Educational Conference – 2014, California Endowment Center, Los Angeles –“Navigating Our Path to TB Elimination: Challenges and Solutions” “Additionally, 30 percent of those occur in Los Angeles County,” he said.

Symptoms of TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB disease symptoms may include:
A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer.
Pain in the chest.
Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
Weakness or fatigue.
Weight loss.
No appetite.

Because the bacteria that cause tuberculosis are transmitted through the air, the disease can be contagious. Infection is most likely to occur if you are exposed to someone with TB on a day-to-day basis, such as by living or working in close quarters with someone who has the active disease.

Even then, because the bacteria generally stay latent (inactive) after they invade the body, only a small number of people infected with TB will ever have the active disease. The remaining will have what's called latent TB infection -- they show no signs of infection and won't be able to spread the disease to others, unless their disease becomes active.

Also at the conference, the California Tuberculosis Association awarded the Los Angeles Homeles Services Authority a California Tuberculosis Controllers Association (CTCA) Award for contributions to improving community health through the control and prevention of tuberculosis (TB). LAHSA created a system to track TB among the homeless and worked with the Dept. of Public Health (DPH) Tuberculosis Control Program and the DPH Community Health Service clinics.

Executive Director, Michael Arnold and Steven Rocha, senior data analyst, LAHSA accepted the award at the local conference. “TB can be caught and cured and we all have a roll in doing this in Los Angeles County,” said Arnold. “We want to commend Dr. Kerdnt for a doing a great collaborative job in utilizing the collective system as well as the technology platforms available to spot and cure this disease.”

TB was once a widespread disease. It was virtually wiped out with the help of antibiotics developed in the 1950s, but the disease has resurfaced in potent new forms -- multidrug-resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB. Today, these new and dangerous forms of the disease -- resistant to some of the commonly used drug treatments -- have created a public health crisis in many large cities worldwide.

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