The Truth About TB

By: Sarah Goebel Email
By: Sarah Goebel Email

Two Kentuckians are known to have traveled on the flight with the patient diagnosed with TB and the Kentucky Department for Public Health says the two people are undoing tests to see if they contracted the disease.

It is unknown what part of Kentucky they are from, but the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health is conducting the tests.

There are two types of TB, regular and Extensively Drug Resistant or XDR TB. That type of TB is very rare, but more dangerous than regular TB.

"People that develop this strain do not respond to the medication," said Crissy Rowland, The Barren River District Health Department.

Typically antibiotics are enough to help cure TB, but XDR TB requires special treatment that may not be as effective.

"The people who are at risk for XDR are people that have had TB in the past or currently have TB and don't take the medication or doesn't finish the medication," Rowland explained.

Rowland said everyone has the TB virus in their system, but it takes coming in close contact with someone who has it or having a weakened immune system for the disease to flare up.

"If someone sneezes, coughs, sings or speaks and they have active TB," Rowland said.

Both types of TB have the same effects on your body.

"People who have TB could experience symptoms like night sweats, fever, weakness and if it is in your lungs you could also develop a severe cough," Rowland said.

Rowland said washing your hands and practicing cleanliness is the best way to prevent contracting the disease. She said vaccinations aren't given in the U.S.

"I don't think people should be worried. They should be cautious and take precautions," Rowland said. "Though the Health Department says not to be overly concerned about contracting TB, if you have your doubts you can get tested."

She said if left untreated the disease can be deadly, but once someone is diagnosed with TB the illness is easy to control.

"Our TB program follows you as far as giving you medication and it can even be mandated by the courts," Rowland explained.

The Barren River District Health Department is unaware of any cases of XDR TB in this area, but in 2004 there were six cases of regular TB in Warren County.

Rowland said XDR TB is so rare, from 1993 to 2006 there were only 49 cases reported in the U.S.

For more information on the following subjects click on their links:
XDR TB
TB Facts
TB Skin Testing

For more information from the Center for Disease Control on Tuberculosis, click here and for local help contact The Barren River Health Department by going to their website, barrenriverhealth.org.


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