A short course to beat latent TB

Untreated, it can turn into active tuberculosis

It’s estimated that more than 11 million Americans, 4.2 percent of the population, have latent tuberculosis. If Butte County’s percentage is similar to the nation’s, some 9,240 county residents are infected. Of them, anywhere from 460 (5 percent) to 920 (10 percent) will develop TB if not treated. That’s the bad news. The good news, according to the Butte County Public Health Department, is that treatment has gotten much easier. It used to require nine months of daily pill-taking, but a recent study has shown that a shorter, easier regimen—once-a-week drugs for three months—works just as well.

Those most likely to have latent TB:

• have spent time around someone with active TB;

• have HIV or another immune deficiency;

• have symptoms of active TB;

• are from a country where active TB is common;

• live somewhere in the United States where TB is more common (homeless shelter, migrant farm camp, prison or jail);

• inject illegal drugs.

Anyone who falls into one of these groups is urged to contact the health department at 891-2732. Tuberculosis can be cured if diagnosed early.