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Detroit faces Tuberculosis scare

A worker for the Michigan Department of Community Health was unknowingly ill with tuberculosis. The Department recommended last week that over 500 patients who received dental care at four health care facilities in Detroit be tested for possible exposure, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease spread person to person by air. That includes sneezing, speaking, coughing and even singing. It is not spread by touching, sharing food, toilet seats, kissing or even sharing toothbrushes. Sharing toothbrushes though is not recommended as it is not sanitary.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists the symptoms as:

  • having a persistent bad cough, lasting three weeks or more
  • having a pain in the chest
  • feeling weak or fatigue
  • coughing up blood
  • sudden unexplained weight loss
  • lack of appetite
  • having chills
  • a fever
  • having night sweats

Like any disease, there are certain high risk groups. These are people that are more susceptible to contracting TB. Diabetics are one such group. In fact, diabetics are two and a half (2½) times more likely to develop tuberculosis than their non-diabetic counterparts, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Others at risk are those with an HIV infection, those with other health issues or having a weak immune system, and those who abuse alcohol or drugs.

WHO – the World Health Organization – considers TB to be a global health concern. The United States alone reported more than 11,000 cases of TB in 2010. During that same year, Pennsylvania had over 200 cases, according to the PA Department of Health. Foreigners and first-generation immigrants are also more at risk.

“Fifty-seven percent of the total cases reported in Pennsylvania in 2010 were among persons born outside the United States. The percentage of foreign-born cases has steadily increased over the past 5 years,” according to the PA Department of Health.

In an article yesterday for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. John Stern, an infectious disease doctor at Pennsylvania Hospital, stated that half – 50% - off all TB cases in the United States are found in immigrants.


Pennsylvania Department of Health TB Control Program
Health and Welfare Building, Room 1013
625 and Forester Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120


This article is not intended to replace the medical advice of your physician. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of tuberculosis, make an appointment with your physician.

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