News Release: New Tuberculosis Campaign


March 22, 2013

Health Department Launches New Tuberculosis Campaign
Fairfax County Health Department

The Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) has launched a new educational campaign that focuses on the highest risk populations for tuberculosis (TB) in the Fairfax community. The launch of this new initiative coincides with World TB Day, March 24. The objectives of the new campaign include increasing awareness, dispelling myths and addressing barriers to testing and early treatment.

While significant progress has been made toward controlling and curing TB, it remains one of the most common infectious diseases worldwide. The Health Department has partnered with community leaders who will serve as champions in their respective communities by sharing critical messages about TB:

  • Anyone can get TB;
  • Receiving BCG, or TB vaccine, in the past does not provide long-term protection from TB infection or disease;
  • Everyone should know the symptoms of TB:  coughing that lasts more than 2 weeks or coughing up blood, pain in the chest, weight loss, no appetite, fever, chills, and sweating at night;
  • People with TB symptoms should see a doctor;
  • Active TB disease, while serious, is curable if all prescribed medications are taken properly;
  • Testing for TB is easy; and
  • Treatment for TB is free from the Fairfax County Health Department for people who live in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

"No one should suffer or die from TB because it is preventable and curable at little cost," said Fairfax County Director of Health Gloria Addo-Ayensu, MD, MPH. "One of our goals is to debunk myths about TB through education to remove any barriers that may discourage people from getting tested or seeking care when they have TB symptoms."

About one-third of the world's population has latent TB infection, which means that they have been infected by the TB bacteria but do not feel sick or have any symptoms and cannot spread the bacteria to others. Those who do not receive treatment risk becoming ill with active TB disease, which is contagious and can be fatal; this is why people should see a doctor when they have symptoms of TB.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is spread through the air from one person to another when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. People with active TB disease can infect up to 15 other people through close contact over the course of a year. Worldwide in 2011, nearly 9 million people became sick with TB disease and there were around 1.4 million TB-related deaths.

Links to Additional Resources:

MEDIA CONTACT:

Glen Barbour
Public Safety Information Officer
703-246-8635, TTY 711
glen.barbour@fairfaxcounty.gov


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