March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, an observance meant to spread awareness about the disease, which is the second leading cause of death worldwide after HIV/AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate about 2 million people die each year from TB.
"Many people assume that TB is no longer a concern in this country, but we continue to see cases each year — in Kentucky and around the U.S.," said Steve Davis, acting commissioner of the state Department of Public Health. "While public health has made great strides in preventing the spread of the disease, our work continues."
In 2011, 71 active TB cases were diagnosed in Kentucky, though the state falls below the national average of 3.6 cases per 100,000 people.
TB is an airborne disease, transmitted when an infectious person coughs, shouts, sneezes, speaks or sings. It generally attacks the lungs, but can affect any part of the body, including the kidneys, spine and brain. If left untreated, the disease can be fatal.
People exposed to TB can also get a latent TB infection, which has no symptoms but can still be spread to others. That infection can progress into full-blown TB. Symptoms include coughing up blood, loss of appetite, chest pain and fatigue. (Read more)