While tuberculosis (TB) rates are declining nationally, the number of cases in Indiana has increased by 0.8 percent. In response, Indiana health officials are urging physicians to be alert for symptoms of the disease among their patients.
“Indiana had 119 active cases and two TB-related deaths in 2009,” said Sarah Burkholder, R.N., director of the TB program for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). “Most of the cases are in the foreign-born and homeless populations.”
More than half of the state’s TB cases came from Marion, Allen and Lake counties. TB in foreign-born persons is 19 times higher than in U.S.-born citizens and 28 times higher in Asians. The largest outbreak was among the homeless population in Indianapolis, noted Burkholder.
She urges physicians to make sure patients with the active TB disease complete treatment, which is vital to controlling the disease.
“TB remains one of the leading causes of death among infectious diseases worldwide, even though it is readily treatable and preventable,” said Burkholder. “The goal is to reduce TB to 0.5 cases per 100,000 in U.S.-born persons and 16.5 cases per 100,000 foreign-born persons in Indiana by 2015.”
For questions or more information, call the ISHD TB/Refugee Health Division at (317) 233-7545.