Georgia Ranks 6th Worst in TB Cases
ATLANTA (AP) _ Georgia ranks sixth worst in the nation for cases of the respiratory disease tuberculosis. Last year, the state saw 537 reported cases of tuberculosis and 25 deaths. And in Atlanta, the rate is 2.5 times the national average with 14.2 cases per 100,000.
The tuberculosis profile for the Atlanta area is unique because of its mix of Old South and new immigrants.
In Fulton County, the majority of people who get the disease are poor blacks who have always lived in the area, never traveled outside the United States and live on the streets, public health officials said.
But across the county lines in DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties live thousands of newcomers who may have carried the disease from other countries.
Nationally, more than 50 percent of tuberculosis cases involve people born outside the United States _ mostly from Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, China and Haiti, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Georgia, about one in five people diagnosed with tuberculosis is foreign born.
Last week, Northside Hospital in Atlanta revealed that as many as 200 former patients _ including 37 newborns _ may have been exposed to tuberculosis through an infected labor and delivery nurse between March 1 and June 22. Skin-testing of those patients and others worried about exposure continues this week.
So far, no one who has had contact with the unidentified nurse has tested positive, hospital officials said. But results are still coming in.
State health officials say the situation warrants extra precautions because of the infants but that it is unlikely any patient picked up the disease from the nurse.
Tuberculosis is transmitted from an infected person through the air by coughs or sneezes. Its symptoms include coughing that lasts longer than two weeks, chest pain, weakness, coughing up blood, chills and fever.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com