Scary Disease You Thought Was Long Gone Is Making a Comeback

tb lungs xrayHey, you don't have enough to worry about, right? I bet you could really use some more health-related stuff to get you all stressed out. Well, you're in luck! Because you know how you thought tuberculosis was just some disease that killed characters from turn-of-the-century literary masterpieces? Some wasting malady involving lots of coughing into monogrammed handkerchiefs that was eradicated way before we were born?

NOPE. TB is back, baby, and better worse than ever. AND not only that, but one of the worst outbreaks of tuberculosis the CDC has seen in over 2 decades was kept almost completely under wraps. Cause hey, you didn't need to know about that super-scary contagious disease, didya?


Yes, it's true: A particularly nasty strain of TB which broke out in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2008 and has since been linked to 13 deaths and 99 cases (with 3,000 people potentially exposed) was "largely hidden from the public." Um, why? Well, the reasons for the initial cover-up aren't entirely clear, but the county healthy director now admits this was an error in judgement: "We thought after 2008 that we had it contained. It was not contained."

And it gets worse: By the time "key decision makers" in Florida were alerted, a major hospital for treating tuberculosis had been shut down. By the time the general public got the memo, the rare strain of TB was already spreading to other parts of the state. Initially confined mainly to homeless communities, there are now "indications the strain has moved into the general population."

Awesome. And the moral of this health horror story? Honestly, I'm not sure -- apart from the whole paranoia validation/trust no one thing. But here are the symptoms of TB, just in case (according to the CDC):

  • A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • No appetite
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sweating at night

See, nothing to worry about. Right? (Except if you have all those symptoms, call your doctor.)

Does this new tuberculosis outbreak freak you out?


Image via Yale Rosen/Flickr

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