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King County reminds residents today is World Tuberculosis Day
Every week in King County, there is a reminder that tuberculosis (TB) not only lingers among us, but is a constant danger. King County Department of Public Health said that last year, 114 residents were diagnosed and treated for active TB last year for an average of more than two per week. Another 100,000 residents are infected with TB, but the microbe lies dormant.
In fact, about a third of the world's population is infected with TB, but most are unaware. As a crossroads for global trade and migration, the greater Seattle area also has higher rates of TB infection than the national average.Newly released data for 2013 from King County Public Health shows a slight uptick in TB locally. Still, the disease rates are near an all-time low and reflect a longer trend of keeping TB under control.
Yet, in King County, 18 percent of people treated in 2013 were resistant to one of the TB drugs, the agency reported.
"It's our mission to identify and ensure treatment of every single case of active TB in King County. That's the only way to protect the public from an outbreak, as well as save the lives of those who became infected," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. Tuberculosis can be treated and cured using antibiotics. Since the 1960s, it has become an uncommon disease in the United States. But outbreaks remain a constant threat because it's widespread around the world.
World TB Day is today. To better understand King County's role in the global TB epidemic, the Washington Global Health Alliance and the TB Action Coalition will hold a presentation at Town Hall Seattle and other awareness events. The PBS program Frontline and Seattle's KCTS-9 will broadcast a special report "TB, the Silent Killer" at 10 p.m., March 25. The program will be rebroadcast at 3 a.m., Friday, March 28.