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Health board sees spike in local TB cases

A total of 16 cases of tuberculosis were reported in Allen County last year, four times the number of cases reported in 2011, the Board of Health learned Monday.

Of the tuberculosis cases reported last year, one resulted in death, said Dr. Deborah McMahan, health commissioner for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department.

“TB has been a really big issue for us in the past year,” she said.

TB, a bacterial disease that usually attacks the lungs, affected 100 Hoosiers and more than 11,180 Americans in 2012. If not treated properly, the disease can be fatal, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statistics from the Allen County Department of Health show that the number of tuberculosis cases had been on the decline for the past five years, hitting an all time low of four reported cases in 2011.

That downward trend continued until 2012, McMahan said, when the number of reported cases spiked to 16.

Last year, Allen County’s incidence rate per 100,000 people was about 1.2, but in 2012, the county’s rate rose to 4.3 – higher than the national average of 3.6, according to local Department of Health data.

A total of 100 tuberculosis cases were reported in Indiana in 2012, and 11,182 were reported in the United States.

One of the issues with the disease is the cost involved with treating patients who’ve contracted tuberculosis. Some of those costs include hotel rooms or rent to keep affected people isolated, food, clothing and of course, medication, McMahan said.

In one extreme case, the cost to treat a person with a drug-resistant strain of the disease was more than $51,000, she said.

McMahan said an interesting trend to note from 2012 is a decline in the number of cases among foreign-born residents of Allen County.

“That’s reversed from what we’ve seen in previous years,” she said.

STD cases reviewed

In other business Monday, the board received data regarding the number of sexually transmitted diseases affecting Allen County residents.

County statistics show that cases of chlamydia and HIV were down in 2012 by 7 percent and 13 percent, respectively, while the numbers of gonorrhea and early syphilis cases were up slightly.

Gonorrhea cases are up from 556 in 2011 to 565 in last year, a 1.6 percent increase. Early syphilis cases increased 33 percent, from 15 to 20 cases when comparing the previous two years.