Updated: 6:10 p.m. Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Posted: 10:52 a.m. Sunday, July 8, 2012
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WHAT THE POST UNCOVERED
In 2008, a schizophrenic patient contracted TB but went untreated for eight months, wandering among many places where the homeless congregate, infecting at least 17 others.
In 2012, the CDC was invited to help with a sudden spike in cases of the same rare strain the schizophrenic patient had. What they found is the worst outbreak they have investigated in 20 years, and it is not contained.
ON THE TRAIL OF TB
Hard to track: Homeless and mentally ill people and those they have come in contact with are especially hard to treat.
Long, tough treatment: Several pills a day of several virulent antibiotics for a minimum of six months, often up to two years.
What’s at stake: If treatment regimen isn’t strictly followed, antibiotic resistent strains emerge.
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
How TB Spreads
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. TB is NOT spread by
Symptoms of TB disease include:
TB Risk Factors
Once a person is infected with TB bacteria, the chance of developing TB disease is higher if the person: