15 New Tuberculosis Cases on Maui in 2010

March 24, 2011, 7:26 AM HST
* Updated March 24, 7:31 AM
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By Wendy Osher

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The Hawaii State Department of Health joins in the observance of World Tuberculosis Day today, March 24. On this day in 1882, Robert Koch announced the discovery of tuberculosis (TB) bacillus. Although many believe that TB is a disease of the past, it remains a leading killer among infectious diseases worldwide.

Here in Hawaii, there were 115 active TB cases reported in 2010, 15 of them in Maui County.  The distribution of new TB cases for other locations in the state in 2010 was: 12 cases in Hawaii County, 81 in Honolulu County, and 7 in Kauai County.  The majority of these cases completed medications and are now cured.

Health officials say that historically, the state of Hawaii has the highest TB case rate in the nation. Over the past decade, Hawaii reported an average of 123 new TB cases per year.

TB Symptoms and Transmission:

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TB is a disease that is commonly seen in the lungs and can be spread from person-to- person through the air. When a person with active TB coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings, tiny drops containing the disease can enter the air. If another person inhales these drops there is a chance that they can become infected.

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Both Forms of TB are Treatable and Curable:

1. Latent TB infection – when a person has TB bacteria in their body but the body’s immune system is protecting them and they are not sick. Someone with latent TB infection cannot spread the infection to other people.

2. Active TB disease – when a person becomes sick with TB because their immune system can no longer protect them. Someone with active TB disease may be able to spread the disease to other people.

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Prevention and Screening for TB:

The Hawaii State TB Control Program is working to prevent TB across the state. To achieve this, more than 50,000 Hawaii residents get tuberculosis screening each year. Many cases of tuberculosis are identified by screening, especially among those who are from areas where TB rates are much higher (Asia and the other Pacific Islands).

For more information on tuberculosis, please call the State of Hawaii Tuberculosis Control Program at 808-832-5731 or visit the Department of Health Web site at www.hawaii.gov/health/tb.

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