Tuberculosis Hidden from the Public

Lungs with Tuberculosis

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Tuberculosis - Jacksonville News

The worst tuberculosis epidemic in 20 years was kept secret for eight years in Jacksonville,FL. The news of this outbreak from the CDC came shortly after the only hospital for patients with tuberculosis, located in Lantana, FL, was closed due to budget cuts. At this time 13 have died and 99 are ill. This outbreak was first discovered in November, 2008, with 18 active cases.

According to the Florida’s Surgeon General, John Armstrong, the likelihood of this disease spreading to the general public is very low. Is that relevant? Isn’t the spread of this disease to anyone still a tragedy? Dr.Armstrong visited Jacksonville to calm fears about this situation, but the fact is this disease should have been dealt with more aggressively from the beginning.

CDC Returned to Jacksonville Feb., 2012

The CDC became aware of this problem in June, 2009, when an assisted living facility requested the Department of Health in Jacksonville investigate. At that time there were 9 cases of primary tuberculosis, and the CDC made recommendations to treat the affected individuals and address the outbreak. However, the disease began to spread to homeless shelters and places that serve the homeless. At that point, in ‘February 2010, the CDC was asked to investigate again. The general public was still not aware of this problem. Finally, in April 2012, the CDC returned and stated the TB outbreak is one of the worst in the country in the past 20 years.

Tuberculosis is one of the world’s oldest and deadliest infections, which dates back thousands of years as it has been found in the examination of Egyptian mummies. World wide TB kills 1.4 million people annually, with approximately 9 million people contracting the disease each year.There is a vaccine, primarily given to babies and children, in high risk countries.

Contracting TB

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About TB

Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacteroium tuberculosis. It is possible to contract this disease by breathing in air droplets from a cough, sneeze or by being close to someone speaking or singing if the person is infected with the disease. Groups that are at a higher risk include the elderly, infants and the immune suppressed population.

You do not get TB from toilet seats, shaking someone's hand, touching bed linen or even kissing.

TB Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of TB include:

  • Bad cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks
  • Chest pain, pain with breathing or coughing
  • Coughing up blood or sputum
  • Weight loss, weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever and chills
  • Night Sweats

TB Affected Kidneys

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TB Affect other Body Parts

TB is a serious disease that can also attack your kidneys, spine or brain. The signs of involvement for these complications would be specific to the organ affected. For instance, blood in the urine would indicate that TB had spread to the kidneys. There are numerous tests used to diagnosis this disease.

TB Treatment

The treatment for TB requires taking several medications for a minimum of 6 to 9 months and can be very complex. Ten drugs are currently FDA approved for the treatment of TB. It is essential an individual being treated for TB complete all of their medications as prescribed or they will end up sick again.

Scientist are testing a promising new drug regimen that in the Phase II trial resulted in the ability to kill 99% of the TB bacteria in a two week period of time. This could result in reducing treatment for some patients by more than a year.

Tuberculosis

Ongoing Jacksonville TB Outbreak

In Jacksonville, some staffers at the homeless shelters, law enforcement and some health officials were aware of the disease, but the public did not become aware until the Times Union Newspaper ran an article on June 5th. Keeping this information from the public is inexcusable. The justification on the part of the officials was, “we don’t create unnecessary fear and anxiety” in the general population.Finally on September 26, 2012, the TB outbreak makes front page news as the Health Department chief abruptly retires.

Since I am immune suppressed, I would like to have known sooner to use extra caution in public environments as apparently my life could depend on that awareness. Clearly public officials cannot know whether this disease will spread to people who are not homeless. What if an infected homeless person gets a job as a waiter at a restaurant and is my waiter this evening?

© 2012 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 38 comments

Roberta99 profile image

Roberta99 4 years ago

I think it is shocking that the people were not informed. I would probably keep a low profile right now if I was in your position.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

I agree. Thanks for your comments.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

There is no excuse for not having made this information public! TB is highly contagious and almost anyone could be exposed. That is good news about that trial phase of medication that could shorten the treatment period if found successful. Informative hub. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Peggy, Obviously I agree with you completely. The new drug does sound very promising. Thanks for the comments and the sharing.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

I too, was shocked by this casual response to a TB outbreak. As you said, current methods of treatment are long and complicated requiring follow-up efforts by health care personnel and patient compliance, two things which are difficult to ensure in a homeless population, but also difficult to ensure in any population.

TB has been an ongoing problem especially since some strands are antibiotic resistent and I was heartened to hear there is a new, simpler, shorter treatment protocol in clinical testing.

Thanks for sharing this important information.


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 4 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Scary stuff, Pamela, and now whooping cough has reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the country too. I think I'll just stay home...forever....


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

Woah, really? Not cool, Jax. It's kind of interesting that we don't generally inoculate for TB in this country, but other nations (and troops deployed abroad) do.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Gail, You made a good point about the potential of non-compliance being a problem with the homeless. It is a serious issue and I too am t happy that a new drug protocol is coming soon. Thank you so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

SunRon, So true. Whooping cough is a problem here also. I think there is some concern that the vaccine did not work. I can't understand not getting those first basic vaccines for your children as they need to be protected from these bad diseases, however, I think the whole series must be completed before a child is fully immunized. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Natashalh, I think up until now tuberculosis has been rare here as compared to other countries, but that may be changing. Thanks so much for your comments.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

This is frightening and outrageous. Bravo to you and thnak you...for the exposure!! UP++


Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

TB runs rampant among the medical community because it is so easily transferred since it's an airborne pathogen.

Time to start taking large dosages of Vitamin C and Niacin both of which prevent this bacterium from growing! But the CDC and the pharmaceutical companies won't tell you that. But you can look it up on doctoryourself.com.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

fpherj, It is frightening. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Daughter of Maat, Thank you for that information. I do take vitamin C every day, but up it and add niacin. Thanks again.


Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

You're quite welcome. I take 8,000mg of vit C per day. I have an article on it if you're interested in the megadose therapy. Niacin therapy typically starts at 3,000mg per day (1,000mg three times a day). I'm sharing this article, there are quite a few hubbers that I follow who live in Florida. They all should be warned!


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Pamela, this is very useful. TB is a killer. I've seen people in my hometown died because of this disease.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

unknown spy, It is a terrible disease for sure and have already died in Jacksonville. Thanks for your comments.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

I am appalled that people were not informed of this problem. Perhaps if they were the disease would not have spread so rapidly. Take care. Voted useful and awesome.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

POP, I feel the same way. I think the medical community including the CDC really dropped the ball. Thanks for your comments.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

It makes me wonder just how many other things are being kept from us that could impact our health and safety.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Everyone else covered my thoughts.

TFP


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Those in the medical community, Pamela, who kept this TB outbreak secret should be inoculated . . . with the TB disease.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is very upsetting to me. First, There should never be a homeless person. America needs to take care of their own. I feel for these people, seemed they dropped under the radar. This disease is horrible and should have been reported sooner. Thank's Pam for this report..


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Frog Prince, I appreciate the comments.

drbj, They seemed to have pushed this under the rug without consequences to themselves. A little retribution might be good. Thanks for your comments.

Ruby, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

POP, I had those same thoughts, and that includes cures that might be some simple herb rather than the expensive pharmaceutical meds. Thanks for the comment.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I heard a few months back that there was a concern about the increase of TB in our country in general. I know that the child care field has all workers tested each year for this due to the influx of immigrants, the contact with those who may carry this disease. Thanks for the notice and for the education on treatment.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

teaches, I think it is smart to to require annual testing. I appreciate your comments.


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

Excellent, Excellent Hub Pamela...So Scary that people were NOT informed. Thanks for sharing all there is to know on TB. Many years ago, when I worked at a Training School for the Mentally Disabled. I was asked to work in the TB ward (they had one) and I refused. They were short staffed. I feared doing that. No, I wasn't fired. I truly was afraid, I had young children and my job was to managed one of the Houses there. Eventually the place was shut down for such practices.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

b. Malin, I understand why you would turn down that position, you would have to think of the risk to your future first. I appreciate your comments on the hub.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is the first of I have ever heard of this. This is frightening to know. Really makes me wonder what else the government is hiding. Great hub!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Thanks for posting this so we can be informed. We were in Jacksonville last weekend--meeting people from other places and from there in 2 public locations and 1 private home so the head's up is for far more than the residents of that area. This hub could save lives.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Tammy, That is how I feel. The fact that they have kept it hidden really bothers me. I appreciate your comments.

RTalloni, I really want people to be aware that this is happening here where I live. The news has had nothing much to say about this problem and for months it wasn't reported at all. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

I heard of this several months ago in Texas and it was brought in by illegal immigrants who of course are not screened and clinics were set up secretly. This was told to me by a hubber here who lives there. Of course she was not supposed to have known about any of this and no one else. It will be many things before it is done. They have 3rd world diseases we have never been exposed to but now we are. Any store or restaurant we go into puts us at risk.

In winter especially I avoid closed in crowded places.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Pollyiannalana, I think avoiding crowded places is an excellent plan and that is what I need to do also. The government should be upfront with the populace, so we know that we are at risk. That is so annoying to me. I appreciate your comments.


Etherealenigma profile image

Etherealenigma 4 years ago from Florida

It's not shocking at all that the public is not informed. That is the norm. They tell us only what they want us to know, and claim concerns about causing a panic, when in reality, the fact that they did not inform is what causes that. What do they think people will do? Run for the hills? What can they do, but try to be more proactive about their health? Get enough rest, take vitamins, and eat in a healthier way, so that if their body is attacked by anything, it's not so sluggish from the battle with toxins and food poisoning, that it can't fight back. Thanks. Interesting article.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Etherealenigma, You summed it up just perfectly. Of course, the people should be told so they can be proactive. Thank you so much for your comments.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

Pamela...Oh my...I am speechless, truly. Who would think this kind of thing would be hidden? It is so scary. We have grown to have this sense of all is well with the world and we are protected when it comes to most medical issues. The only reason I may be a bit more wary than some others is that I have been around the medical profession for so many years with so many family members being in the profression. but this still leaves me outraged.

I appreciate the fact that you have shared it.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

pstraubie, I am also outraged as an RN and the fact that it is happening in mt city. I appreciate your comments.

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