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Tuberculosis Declines In Mo.: Health Officials Exercise Caution


Kansas City, MO – Tuberculosis is on the decline in Missouri. That's according to recent reports from the state health department. But with a third of the world currently infected with the bacteria, local health officials say the region must remain committed to eliminating the spread of the disease. KCUR's Elana Gordon has more.

There were about a hundred active cases of tuberculosis in Missouri last year, including eighteen cases in Kansas City. Dr. Dan Purdom is Medical Director of the Jackson County Health Department and says that may seem like a low number, but any one case can have a huge public impact. He says an incident from a few years ago still stands out to him.

PURDOM: We had one active case in a daycare center. One active case...I had 54 kids to x-ray, to give medication to, to follow closely for a number of months - one child actually had to go to children's mercy for further treatment. So one case actually has a huge ripple effect.

Dr. Purdom says a major challenge to eradicating tuberculosis from the area is making sure that anyone who has the disease gets closely monitored treatment, even if the infection is latent and not contagious at that particular time. Tuberculosis can be spread through the air when a person that has an active infection coughs, sneezes or talks. The disease is at an all time low in the United States, but it still remains a global epidemic.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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