TB cases dropping in Illinois - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

TB cases dropping in Illinois

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging residents to learn about tuberculosis in order to stop it from spreading. TB is an infection normally found in the lungs, but it can spread to other organs.

Illinois ranks among the highest for TB cases in the nation. Sixth to be exact.

But Jan Hummel with the Adams County Health Department says Adams County isn't following that trend.

"TB is in the world. And yes we need to be aware of it but the bottom line in Adams County is we have a very very low incidence of active tuberculosis," said Hummel.

How low? Right now, Hummel says zero.

And she attributes that to something called "directly observed therapy," where health officials bring the medications to infected patients and watch them swallow it so they can be sure no doses are missed.

"If you had active tuberculosis, we would come and see you and say, 'Here's your pills. Swallow these,' regardless of whether we think you're trustworthy or not trustworthy," said Hummel. "It's what we do."

Hummel says TB is generally prevalent in other parts of the world and is spread around the US by people who have immigrated or traveled to those places.

There were 347 cases of TB reported in the state in 2012. The Illinois Department of Public Health says that was a decline from 359 cases the previous year.

Most of the state's TB cases are among people who were born in countries where TB is common, such as Mexico, India and the Philippines.

Dr. Richard Saalborn with Blessing Hospital says it can often be overlooked, with symptoms somewhat mocking those of the common cold or flu.

"They may have weight loss. They'll have night sweats. Just where they wake up in the middle of the night sweating. And then they typically will cough up blood," said Saalborn.

Saalborn says TB is a disease that hospital employees take very seriously because it can be difficult to find. Especially in a season when people are coming in with cold and flu.

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