Recent Scare Puts Spotlight On Tuberculosis
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- It was just two days ago when WCBI first reported that an active case of tuberculosis has been confirmed at Ole Miss.
The alarming news is now prompting the Mississippi Department of Health to test around 500 people for the infection.
“Tuberculosis is a serious infection that mainly affects the lungs,” said Dr. Lee Richardson, who works in the ER at Baptist Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Richardson has been working at BMH for more than two decades and said throughout his career, it’s not too often that he comes across a patient dealing with a tuberculosis infection.
“We will get a case of active tuberculosis come in about once every 2 to 3 years,” he expressed.
However, while Richardson said tuberculosis isn’t common at his facility, he admits, it’s still a serious and deadly infection.
There are two forms of it, active tuberculosis.
“Active tuberculosis is spread through water droplets, mostly involving coughing or sneezing,” the doctor said.
And latent tuberculosis.
“Latent tuberculosis is asymptomatic and most people don’t know that they have latent tuberculosis,” Richardson described. “It only becomes a problem if it converts into active.”
Active tuberculosis is contagious and anyone can be exposed to it.
In fact, Richardson said if you’re sitting in the same room as someone with the infection, you can also become infected.
“Cough is the most common symptom that you are going to have,” Richardson explained. “A cough for over three weeks for sure, severe night sweats are another symptom of tuberculosis, fever, unexplained weight loss, those four are probably the top symptoms somebody is going to have with tuberculosis.”
However, if someone becomes infected, the long-time doctor said the good news is the disease is curable.
If anyone experiences any of the symptoms, Richardson recommends seeing a doctor right away.
“The evaluation would typically start with a skin test,” said Richardson. “If the skin test is positive then we’d proceed with chest X-rays for further evaluations.”
According to the MSDH, each year nine million people worldwide develops the tuberculosis disease, and a new case is diagnosed every 64 seconds.
The department of health also reports that one and a half million people die from the tuberculosis disease each year.
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