TB Outbreak In Atlanta, Georgia: 47 Infected, 3 Dead

With the entire world on edge about Ebola, people are remaining vigilant about their health. Vigilance, in some cases, is even replaced with out-right paranoia.

A doctor infected with Ebola was transported to Atlanta, Georgia recently. The transportation of the patient caused fear to tear through the population despite the CDC assuring citizens that there was very little to worry about. Now, Georgia Health News has reported on a different disease outbreak in the city.

It is an outbreak that has gained very little notice over the years.

According to the director of health protection for Public Health, Dr. Patrick O’Neal, the Tuberculosis (TB) strain that is causing the outbreak in Atlanta is the same strain of TB that they began finding in 2009.

The current outbreak strain is semi-drug resistant. Isoniazid has no affect on the TB strain in question, but it is affected by other anti-TB medication.

Cases of TB in Atlanta have been on the rise in the past months. In May there were a total of 16 cases reported. Reports of infection have now increased to 47, with 3 dead.

The TB outbreak mainly affects homeless people and shelter volunteers. Dr. O’Neal indicated that the reasoning behind the outbreak targeting homeless shelters was because they typically “have very poor sanitation and infection control measures.”

Since last winter was brutal for Atlanta, it’s likely that the TB spread because more homeless had to find shelter.

A letter was sent to churches on August 1rst asking them to warn volunteers to get screened for TB because they were at risk of infecting their families and friends. They are at risk “especially where there is prolonged close contact, typically several hours and usually in a poorly ventilated area.”

The CDC has deployed a team of epidemiologists to Atlanta to assist in the TB outbreak investigation. They are working closely with the Georgia TB program.

Although TB is not as deadly as Ebola, especially when it responds to some of the medications geared toward it, it is much easier to catch.

Ebola is spread much like AIDS is. To catch Ebola one must have contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids; such as urine or blood. The disease is not spread through skin contact and it is not airborne.

TB, on the other hand, is airborne and is very susceptible to outbreak. If an infected person coughs, sneezes or even speaks, nearby people could easily breath in the bacteria and become infected.

The rate of TB in the U.S. has been declining, but the CDC is still taking this outbreak in Atlanta very seriously.

[ Image courtesy of Upstart Magazine ]