Tuesday, March 24, 2009, is World Tuberculosis Day, and while the Mississippi tuberculosis (TB) numbers are down slightly this year and the TB rate is now below the national average, there is still much work to be done in lowering the numbers throughout the state, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).
In 2008, a total of 118 new cases of the disease were reported in Mississippi, bringing the state’s case rate to 4.0 (per 100,000 people), compared with the national average case rate of 4.2. The 2007 case rate for Mississippi was 4.7 with a national average case rate of 4.4.
“Our numbers only decreased by about 20 cases, but that’s a step in the right direction. We’ve increased the number of nurses and disease investigators who are out in the field combating this disease on the front lines every day, and clearly that makes a difference,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier. “We’re slowly but surely getting a better handle on our TB cases. We can control this disease in Mississippi; we’ve done it before.”
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, is expelled into the air when those infected cough or sneeze. Others are then infected when they breathe the bacteria into their own lungs. Not all people infected with TB become contagious, or even ill.
NOTE TO MEDIA:
MSDH has nurses in every county in Mississippi tracking down TB patients daily to administer the patients’ medications. For many TB patients, the standard of treatment is through Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), in which a nurse monitors the patient taking each dose of anti-tuberculosis medication. This often presents challenges as the nurses work long hours locating patients and traveling to give them their medications.
To interview a TB nurse in your area, call the Office of Communications, 601-576-7667:
- In the Tupelo area, cornbread and poke salad help a TB nurse win a patient’s trust.
- In the Delta, a TB nurse donates shelter, furniture and clothing to his patient in need.
- In Jackson, a TB nurse spends the holiday catching a contagious patient breaking quarantine orders.
- In the Hattiesburg/McComb area, a nurse works with other state agencies to adopt a TB patient’s family in need.
- On the Gulf Coast, a TB nurse works out of her car to treat patients after Hurricane Katrina.