OPINION

Health and Wellness: Tuberculosis

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

An essential service of public health is monitoring infectious diseases. Locally, we’ve experienced a rise in tuberculosis, a contagious lung disease that is spread through the air when infected persons cough. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, TB is bacterial. Tuberculosis is both preventable and curable, but can be very serious.

Tuberculosis is present in all countries and among all age groups. It’s more prevalent in these eight countries: India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and South Africa. 

About one-quarter of the world's population has a TB infection, which means they’ve been infected by TB bacteria but aren’t ill with the disease and cannot transmit it. This is the latent stage. Persons with latent TB are more likely to develop an active case of the disease. Those with active tuberculosis are infectious. Common symptoms of active TB are cough with sputum and blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.

Active TB is treated with a six-month course of four antimicrobial drugs, available free through public health. If you have tuberculosis, get a prescription from a doctor; you’ll be contacted by your local public health department, which delivers your medicine, free of charge.