San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 24th, 2009
Court proclaims World TB Day in county

STAFF REPORT

Tuesday is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day in Hays County after a proclamation made by county commissioners.

The proclamation urges all residents to be aware of the symptoms of, and treatment for, TB.

“TB is often thought of as a disease confined to third-world countries or recent immigrants,” said Rebecca Herring, a registered nurse who is the head of Hays County’s TB program. “Texas had 1,500 cases of TB reported in 2007, and Hays County sees an estimated two to seven cases annually.”

TB is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or speaks. People nearby breath in the TB bacteria. Symptoms include:

  • A cough that continues for more than three weeks, especially if blood is present.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Fever/Chills not connected to a current infection.
  • Chest pains/shortness of breath not due to a heart condition or diagnosed asthma.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Severe night sweats.
  • Hoarseness unexplained by allergies or diagnosed infection.
  • Swollen lymph nodes not related to a current infection.

“TB bacteria typically attack the lungs, but can also infect other parts of the body,” Herring said. “Adding to the problem is that several forms have recently mutated and become more resistant to the typical drugs used in treatment.”

The Hays County Personal Health Department offers TB testing at both its San Marcos and Kyle locations. The cost is $15, and it can be done during regular immunization hours, which are 1-6 p.m. Mondays, and 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays.

If the test is positive, a chest X-Ray is usually required, as well as follow up treatment. For latent infections, where there has been exposure without symptoms, treatment is free through county health providers.

Active infections require more extensive treatment for a longer period of time, and frequent monitoring by health care professionals. Anyone with symptoms of TB is asked to immediately contact the county’s Personal Health TB Office at (512) 393-5569.

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