Lawmakers recognized World Tuberculosis Day at the Statehouse on Wednesda. South Carolina has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis (TB) infection in the nation. In history, the dreaded disease was a pandemic killer until it was better controlled by drugs. Yet it still runs rampant in some countries . University of South Carolina researcher Ana Lopez-Defede says it’s a threat to the U.S. as well, due to the emergence and spread of strains of tuberculosis that are multi-drug resistant. She says there are counties in South Carolina where the death rate from the disease is three times the national average of about ten per 100,000.
(Dr. Lopez-Defede on tuberculosis MP3 1:24)
Dr. Lopez-Defede on tuburculocis
Turberculosis is commonly considered a disease that affects the lungs, but in reality it can affect all parts of the body.
Richland County Democrat Anton Gunn says TB is more widespread than you might think. He says tuberculosis is the greatest infectious killer of women, the greatest killer of people with HIV/AIDS, and the greatest infectious killer of youth and adults worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one third of the world’s population is infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.
An estimated 10 to 15 million individuals are still infected with the tuberculosis bacterium in the United States. Worldwide, at least one person is infected with tuberculosis every second, and approximately eight million people become sick with tuberculosis each year.
Tuberculosis rates are substantially higher for minorities in the United States. Researchers says that is because of socioeconomic factors such as high unemployment, low income and poor living conditions.
Most TB cases and TB-caused deaths occur in people between the ages of 15 and 54— the most economically productive years of life. Health officials say that few other infectious diseases create as many orphans as tuberculosis.