This World TB Day, the Norwalk Health Department is amplifying the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s message to Think. Test. Treat TB to raise awareness about tuberculosis (TB) infections and risks.
TB is one of the world’s deadliest preventable diseases, but it can be challenging to understand and manage. Two TB-related conditions exist: latent (inactive) TB infection and active TB disease.
A person with latent TB infection does not feel ill and cannot spread TB to others, but without proper treatment, they can go on to develop active TB disease. Active TB disease can spread to others through the air when the sick person coughs, laughs, or talks.
The Norwalk Health Department works with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) and health care providers to prevent and control TB. The Health Department monitors for disease in the community, works with patients to make sure they can complete their treatment, and identifies people who have been exposed to an active TB case so they can get testing and treatment.
According to CT DPH, one third of the world’s population is currently infected with latent TB. Of these people, 5% to 10% will become sick with active TB disease at some time in their life. In 2021, the Health Department managed fewer than 5 active TB cases. The CDC’s campaign urges individuals to Think. Test. Treat TB. Think: Am I at risk for TB infection?
According to CDC, anyone can get TB, but you might have a higher risk for TB if you:
• Were born in or frequently travel to countries where TB is common, including those in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
• Live or used to live in large group settings where TB is more common, such as homeless shelters, prisons, or jails
• Recently spent time with someone who has active TB disease
• Have a weaker immune system because of certain medications or health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV Media
• Work in places with high risk for TB transmission, such as hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and nursing homes Test: What TB test is needed?
The CDC recommends that people that are at increased risk should be tested for TB. There are two types of tests for TB: a blood test and a skin test. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you. The Health Department offers skin testing to eligible patients for a small fee. Treat: What are the treatment options? If you have inactive TB, treating it is the best way to protect you from getting sick with active TB disease.
There are several short and convenient treatment options available. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information. The Health Department provides medication and follow-up care for eligible individuals without insurance. In the United States, public health efforts have reduced the incidence of TB.
Although the incidence of TB remains low, health officials and their partners must continue their vigilance in order to prevent more TB cases from occurring. In addition to its year-round TB Control Program, the Health Department will also promote this information with social media posts (@NorwalkHealth) and a display board in the Health Department lobby for the next few weeks.
For information about the Health Department’s TB services, please call (203) 854-7776.
For more information: Norwalk Health Department TB and Communicable Disease Control