Tuberculosis cases increase in IllinoisNumbers down nationwide: Kane Co. also sees a reduction in the number of cases
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
THE COURIER NEWS
by Tom Polansek
While active tuberculosis cases last year fell to a historic low nationwide, Illinois recorded a slight increase in its number of cases.
The results marked Illinois' first increase in TB cases in nine years.
"Tuberculosis is still a significant health threat," Dr. Eric Whitaker, Illinois Department of Public Health director, said in a statement. "The public health and medical communities must maintain the ongoing efforts to better identify and treat people with infectious tuberculosis.
"We must continue to provide prevention and control measures against tuberculosis to reverse this slight increase."
In 2005, Illinois recorded 596 TB cases, compared to 569 in 2004.
The increase, however, did not hit Kane County, which reported 10 cases in 2005 and 13 cases in 2004. Most of the increase appears to have occurred in Cook County, including Chicago and its suburbs.
Mary Tebeau, a program manager and nurse with the Kane County Health Department, said the county has been averaging about 15 TB cases a year for about the past five years.
"We really are down for 2005," Tebeau said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health attributes the state's increase to more cases among the foreign-born and to reporting anomalies.
The number of TB cases among those born outside the United States rose to 266 in 2005, compared to 230 in 2004. However, department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said she could not say whether that indicated more people born outside the United States had moved into Illinois.
Arnold said some Illinois hospitals and doctors simply may have been more vigilant in reporting cases in 2005.
"There's really no one overall reason" for the state's TB increase, she said.
Foreign-born individuals accounted for eight of Kane County's 10 TB cases in 2005, Tebeau said. Males also accounted for 80 percent of the group.
The highest percentage of the county's TB cases were found among those 25 to 44 years old.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 14,093 TB cases were reported in 2005, down from 14,516 cases in 2004. The 2005 national TB rate — 4.8 cases per every 100,000 people — was the lowest since reporting began in 1953.
The CDC noted, however, a spike in drug-resistant TB cases.
"The increasing occurrence of drug-resistant TB, including extensively drug-resistant cases, presents significant challenges to treatment and control of the disease both in the United States and abroad," the CDC stated in a release.
Tebeau said Kane County has not yet encountered a drug-resistant strain.
The county health department offers skin tests for TB and advises schools, physicians and clinics how to administer and read the tests correctly. Tebeau said the tests are not painful.
She said children, adults who travel frequently to foreign countries, and those with persistent, unexplained coughs may want to get tested.
"This is a disease that we are still monitoring," she said.