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TB still a disease to fear in Latino communities

LatinaLista — Pop quiz. What is the fourth leading cause of death among women worldwide that has the following symptoms:

a cough that lasts for more than 2-3 weeks
weight loss
night sweats
loss of appetite
coughing up blood

It’s a disease that is curable, as long as people get treated once they’e diagnosed. Give up?


It’s tuberculosis and today is World TB Day.

Most of us probably think tuberculosis is one of those diseases that only affected our grandmother’s generation. Wrong. On this side of the globe, Brazil ranks as the third highest country in the world with TB cases. Yet, TB exists a lot closer to home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

As of February 26, 2011, 20 (U.S.) states had TB case rates <2.0 (range: 0.61–1.88) per 100,000 population, 19 states had TB case rates of 2.0–4.0 (range: 2.07–3.92), and 11 states and the District of Columbia had TB case rates >4.0 (range: 4.15–8.77).

Although TB cases and rates decreased among foreign-born and U.S.-born persons, foreign-born persons and racial/ethnic minorities were affected disproportionately by TB in the United States. In 2010, the TB rate among foreign-born persons in the United States was 11 times greater than among U.S.-born persons.

TB rates among Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks, and Asians were seven, eight, and 25 times greater, respectively, than among non-Hispanic whites. Among U.S.-born racial and ethnic groups, the greatest racial disparity in TB rates was for non-Hispanic blacks, whose rate was seven times greater than the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

The goal of world health officials is to eliminate TB. Though progress has been made, it doesn’t take a PhD to realize that with all the natural disasters occurring around the world and the fighting in the Mideast that is disrupting daily lives, there could potentially be a spike in diseases like TB.

Just a simple cough or sneeze from an infected person can hurl germs towards unsuspecting victims and spread the disease.

So what can the average person do to prevent TB from spreading?

For starters, be aware of the symptoms and when someone complains of having a cough that won’t go away and has been coughing up blood, send them or take them to the doctor.

The United States has no TB vaccine like they do in Mexico, where TB rates are much higher, but there is a test to take to determine if TB is present. Once the diagnosis is complete and the test is positive then a regimen of antibiotics is used to combat a disease that has no place in the modern world but because it is now a truly global society has even more opportunity to spread.

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