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TB Outbreak

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    Posted: November 07 2017 at 10:34am

Tuberculosis outbreak linked to several Minnesota deaths

Nov 6, 2017

Minnesota's multi-drug resistant tuberculosis outbreak spread innocently enough, in part through hours of card games played by Hmong elders at a senior center in Ramsey County.

Now, the outbreak is the largest of its kind in the nation, infecting 17 people across the state. All but a few of the cases involve Hmong individuals in the Twin Cities' east metro. Six of the infected are now dead, and three of the deaths are attributed to the disease.

And as hundreds more are screened for exposure, public health officials don't predict the outbreak will end anytime soon.

"We'll be dealing with this for many more months and even several more years," said Kris Ehresmann, director for infectious disease at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Tuberculosis spreads slowly. Unlike the state's measles outbreak, which wascontained within less than five months last year, the transmission of tuberculosis requires prolonged contact with people who are infected.

Tuberculosis is also tricky to detect. One person in the card-playing group had it for five years before it was diagnosed, said Anne Barry, director of St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health. Nine others associated with the senior center then contracted it.

That scenario shows why Hmong community members and medical providers need to be on alert, Barry said.

"It would be easy to misdiagnose tuberculosis," she said. "Now, providers are apt to look and suspect tuberculosis. The message is, 'Think tuberculosis when you might not otherwise think it.'"

• Related: Tuberculosis case sparks testing at St. Louis Park High School

Still, officials say the public is not at risk. Although tuberculosis is contagious, it's not easy to catch. The disease is spread through the air, through coughing, sneezing or talking, and is transmitted among people who see one other often.

The outbreak originated overseas. Some of the infected people hailed from a Thai refugee camp where tuberculosis infections were common. When they were resettled in Minnesota, they carried a latent form of the disease that was not infectious. But as they got older and their immune systems weakened, the disease became active, and they passed it along to others.

Fighting this strain of tuberculosis will require not only time, but money. The average cost of treating a patient with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is $134,000, and it can go on for more than 18 months.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough that lasts for three or more weeks, chest pains, coughing up blood, fatigue, night sweats, fever and chills.

Source:   https://www.mprnews.org/story/2017/11/06/tuberculosis-cases-linked-to-deaths

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Its here now too.

TB outbreak tied to Minnesota State, Mankato under investigation
The infectious disease was found in eight people associated with the school, including mostly current and former students.
By Liz Sawyer Star Tribune

January 25, 2019 — 9:01am

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating a tuberculosis outbreak among eight people associated with Minnesota State University, Mankato.

State health officials are asking clinics to look out for tuberculosis symptoms in college-aged individuals who have spent time at the university since August 2016.

“Typically, health care providers seeing respiratory issues in an average, otherwise healthy 20-something Minnesotan wouldn’t normally be thinking TB,” Doug Schultz, a Health Department spokesman said late Thursday. Risk factors for the infection usually include travel abroad to a country where TB is common, but in this case, all but one contracted TB in the United States.

Investigators believe the bacteria originated with an international student and spread to at least seven others who had close contact with them, Schultz said. The majority of those affected are MSU students or former students.

The risk of it spreading to the general public is low, Schultz said.

To contain the outbreak, health officials contacted about 700 people who may have interacted with the patients, such as roommates and significant others. Of those, they identified another 30 individuals who have a latent form of TB, meaning they tested positive for the bacteria but didn’t exhibit symptoms.

TB is caused by a bacterial infection and is curable if treated. It usually affects the lungs, though the bones, spine or other organs can also be infected.

Minnesota clinics typically see around 140 TB cases each year, but an outbreak this size is considered unusual.

Though many think TB was eradicated years ago, about 10,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Formerly known as consumption, the disease was greatly mitigated by the 1950s due to advances in antibiotics.

In 2017, more than 70 percent of those diagnosed were born outside the United States, including in Africa and Asia, where the disease is common. The percentage of foreign-born TB patients in Minnesota is over 80 percent, experts said.

That year, an outbreak of drug-resistant TB in Ramsey County infected 17 people, killing three of them.

It isn’t likely to be spread during brief contact. Those with extended periods of exposure are most susceptible.

Anyone who develops associated symptoms — persistent coughing, weight loss, chest pain and fatigue — should seek immediate medical attention and contact Blue Earth County health officials.

Source:   http://www.startribune.com/tb-outbreak-under-investigation-in-mankato/504847552/
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