Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A look back and A look forward

(C) Finntann
The woman in the photograph above is a great aunt of mine, she died at the age of 28.  The photo above was taken at the Women's Infirmary at the Whitehaven Tuberculosis Sanitarium in White Haven, PA (south of Scranton).

For the first time in 23 years the infection rate for TB has risen nationwide.  Why are we losing ground?  Well according to the Minnesota Health Department 22% of refugees resettled into the state by the federal government test positive for latent TB.

Now the Minnesota Health Department has one of the highest treatment completion rate in the country at 86%, looked at from the other angle that means 14% of the refugees don't complete treatment.   Now you can't catch TB from someone with latent TB... but you can catch TB from someone with active TB and 10% of those with LTBI go on to develop into active cases.  

The majority of the LTBI cases come from African and in particular West African immigrants.  The population of those immigrants is 1.8 million, up 810,000 since 2000.  Using Minnesota as a bench mark since it claims one of the best programs in the country that leaves a potential 55,000 latent TB positive immigrants in the country, of which a potential 5,500 will go on to develop active TB.

Makes you think twice about the guy coughing on a bus or airplane next to you, don't it?

The question is why don't we confine these people until treatment is complete, although even then there is no guarantee that you won't develop TB it does seem to be wiser than letting fourteen percent of them slip off into the general population. Is it their rights? What about the rights of Americans to be free from next generation of Typhoid Marys running around?

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