Tuberculosis again a growing concern: Santa Paula found to have high TB rate

May 24, 2000
Santa Paula News
In 1998, although Santa Paula had only five cases of tuberculosis, the same number as Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, it was enough to make the city rank highest countywide for the number of cases per 100,000 residents. Based on those five cases, 17 cases out of 100,000 residents is the Santa Paula TB rate; during the same reporting period Oxnard - about five times larger than Santa Paula - had a 23 cases, a rate per 100,000 residents of only 15.A report released by the Ventura County Department of Public Health noted the rate of TB countywide during 1998 was 47 cases, an average of 7 cases per 100,000 people.Tuberculosis once ranked as the leading cause of death in the United States but by 1950 medical science was able to provide drugs to control it. Tuberculosis is cased by airborne bacterium, making it highly contagious.Drug users, diabetics, the elderly and people with HIV are at high risk of contracting TB because of weakened immune systems but anyone can catch it if exposed, say local health officials who are worried about the rising number of cases in Ventura County.It is possible that cases involving the elderly could be late blooming infections carried for years that are now appearing as the immune system weakens.Many people wonder how TB can be on the rise; skin testing for the disease is common and can catch the infection before it becomes the disease.
Local health officials are seeing more of the disease in immigrants from Mexico and the Filipinos; such a trend is reflected in the rates of the disease in Santa Paula and Oxnard, which have high Latino and immigrant populations.Tuberculosis infection is much different from the disease but still requires a strict regiment of medication that can last for months; those with active TB can infect 10 to 15 people a year and medical treatment can include up to 16 pills a day.Signs of TB include unexplained weight loss, fatigue and painful coughing.Tuberculosis might not be the killer disease it was generations it was but its out there and coming back. . .if you suspect you might have TB or know someone who might be infected with the disease, seek medical attention. It could save a life as well as prevent the spread of the disease.

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