Tuberculosis Outbreak in Kansas


Last week, health officials in Johnson County, Kansas announced the results of emergency tests for tuberculosis conducted among students and staff members attending a high school in Olathe. The results indicated that 27 of the 300 people associated with Olathe High School, or roughly 8% of the test subjects, had tested positive for TB.

The tests occurred after health and school officials were alerted on March 5th that a person at the high school had contracted an active case of tuberculosis stated Jason Halpern on the subject. Most cases of TB remain latent, but sometimes a latent case can become active. Approximately 10% of latent TB cases in a population eventually become active. Those who tested positive for TB plan to undergo a second round of testing in May.

Officials consider TB an illness that can be treated effectively today in most cases with antibiotics. It is spread by a bacterium that usually strikes the lungs, but can attack other organ systems. The disease is usually passed in airborne droplets when infected individuals sneeze, cough, sing or laugh. Someone with an active TB infection may require a protracted course of antibiotic treatment. Treatments usually last from six months to nine months. Left untreated, the disease may cause fatalities.

Although health officials believe the number of TB cases in the United States is declining, in 2013 the CDC reported9,582 cases. There were at least 536 fatalities in 2011.

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