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

general health, illness


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navyw... navywife0204

WOW... My grandmother had TB when I was 9... and I was living with her at the time.  My sister and I were both exposed, but thankfully, never contracted it.  Yes, this worries me, because TB is highly contagious!  I have a daughter who already has somelung scarring because if the h1n1 virus she caught a couple years ago.  she's prone to pneumonia as well.   Who knows what TB would do to her!


Twili... TwilightDream

tsk tsk YES !!! This does freak me out, and it worries me beyond what it will most people because of my asthma, chronic bronchitis, and C.O.P.D. I have had pneumonia so many times since I became ill with a chronic condition that I get pneumonia easy because i am not able to be nearly as active as I once was. That also increases my risk for contracting T.B. among other dangers such as different strains of Influenza. Before this (Thank you for the informing your readers about TB by the way, since the CDC didn't think we needed to know !! ) Influenza and Pneumonia were my biggest concerns, now I have to worry about this too ?? My son has been coughing and at times over the last week or so, he has had blood in the mucus. I though it was because of his throat being raw from coughing. Now, I will be making certain that he is checked out by a knowledgeable doctor.  Shame on the people who should have alerted the public and kept this hidden. They wonder why we don't trust our own Gov't and people in charge of our health and well being ??? Geez, that could take a genius to unravel that mystery, maybe Sherlock Homes should be called in to give them a clue..........

jalaz77 jalaz77

No because I work in a hospital where it comes through every so often. It was never gone. I am not worried.

javak... javakitty2011

Agree with jalaz77, it never went away. It's just been better managed for years since the big  outbreaks. I know several people who have tb. It's not contageous all the time, they take medications to keep under control

Jespren Jespren

In 2007 or 2008 my husband came home from work one day after having heard the news, through the grapevine not management, that he had been exposed to a mini outbreak at work, 3 workers were found to have TB (with the expectation that 2 caught it off of the 1st one). Any of the other workers only found out about it because someone on janitorial had let slip that closing part of the office for 'cleaning' was really a decontamination cleaning. They didn't alert their employees, they didn't offer TB testing, they didn't refer to a local doctor's office for further info. I was FURIOUS. Thankfully my husband, while exposed, never had anything come of it, but boy I could have strangled his managers for just letting the whole office be exposed without notice like that.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I'm not worried. It has never gone away, it's just a lot less common than it was in Dickensian times. I've been vaccinated too so at least I know my chances of catching it are extremely slim so I'd be able to care for anyone in my family that did catch it.

Smerk... Smerkalot

Not worried... there was a 'huge outbreak' in our area here in central Texas two years ago.  A lot of our local schools all had to be tested, my brother included had to go through several rounds - a lot of unnecessary panic is what it is.  It never went away and won't unless some miracle comes through, I wouldn't panic folks.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

TB was never "eradicated." It's still alive and well in other countries and there are cases in the US every year. As a result, I had to have a TB test to be approved for working in a daycare, and again to be approved for working in an elementary school. And that was in the last five years. I'm not surprised there is an outbreak of it. There are "outbreaks" of old diseases all the time. Last year, there was an outbreak of typhoid fever not that far from where I live.

suziejax suziejax

WOW o no!

nonmember avatar Anon

I've had latent TB for at least ten years, big deal. It's really only a problem if you have a weakened immune system. Unless these homeless guys plan on coughing on a bunch of AIDS patients you should probably calm down. TB is manageable as long as you get treatment.

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