By Dr. Anita Barry

World Tuberculosis Day is recognized on Sunday, March 24. This year’s theme is Stop TB in My Lifetime.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable and treatable disease that can be passed from person to person when someone who has TB coughs, sneezes, or shouts. Symptoms of active TB can include cough, lumps in the neck, pain in the bones or back, headache, stiff neck, or fever.

Someone who has “latent,” or “sleeping,” TB has the germs in their body, but does not have symptoms and cannot pass the disease to others. If they take medication, someone with latent TB has less of a chance of the germs “waking up” and giving them symptoms.

World TB Day 2013

In Boston in 2012, 41 cases of TB were reported to BPHC – the lowest number in at least 30 years. The incidence rate is higher in men than in women, and highest in those over 40 years old. Blacks and Asians in Boston have a higher incidence than other races, and foreign-born residents are more likely to have TB than those born in the US.

At the Boston Public Health Commission, we provide a number of free services to patients with TB, including nursing case management, diagnostic services, treatment, and monitoring. Our TB clinic is located at the Boston Medical Center. Confidential HIV counseling and testing is also available to those with TB, because the infection can be more serious in those with compromised immune systems.

If you’d like more information about TB services, call our Infectious Disease Bureau at 617-534-5611 or go online to http://www.bphc.org/programs/infectiousdisease/tuberculosisclinic/Pages/Home.aspx

Dr. Barry is the director if the Infectious Disease Bureau at BPHC.

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