ORANGE COUNTY: Sees Jump In TB Cases
Tuberculosis cases in Orange County "jumped from 273 in 1996 to 330 last year," the Los Angeles Times reports. The 21% jump came as the number of cases declined nationally by 7% and after a three-year decline in the number of local cases. Of the people diagnosed, more than 58% were Asian, almost 31% were Latino and about 11% were white. According to local health officials, the jump is due to an increase in TB monitoring of immigrants "from countries such as Vietnam and Mexico, where the tuberculosis rate is high," as well as "improved county measures to diagnose and report cases." County disease control manager Penny Weismuller said, "It's not that we have a precipitous disease. It's partly because we've worked more aggressively to diagnose and report the cases." She said new tracking measures include a public health nurse who routinely surveys hospitals and doctors' offices about the number of new TB cases and outreach to family members of those infected with TB, which "helped yield other diagnoses." According to local officials, the "local statistics ... signify a demand for more educational and testing programs in various communities," because early diagnosis is key. Pearl Jemison-Smith, who helped found the Tuberculosis Coalition, "a nonprofit group that provides outreach programs countywide," said, "Tuberculosis is an insidious disease because it cannot be easily recognized. We're working to alert physicians to look for classic signs of TB" (Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, 5/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.