Doctor talks TB control in mid-Missouri for World Tuberculosis Day

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COLUMBIA - Thursday marks the annual World Tuberculosis Day. The day is dedicated to raising awareness for the disease that infects one-third of the world's population.

TB is an airborne disease transmitted through droplets released when people who are infected cough, sneeze or cough.

The latest study published by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services stated Missouri had 104 total reported cases of TB in 2013. Boone County had 8, Cole County had 2 and Callaway County had zero.

While symptoms include chest pain, fatigue and loss of appetite, Boone Health Center's Dr. Rubab Naqvia said initial signs look very similar to a longterm cold.

"I would say the classic symptoms are fever, night sweats, weight loss and cough over several weeks," Naqvi said. 

There are two types of tests people can get to check if they have it. One is a blood test and the other tests the pigmentation of the skin.

"No test is better than the other," Naqvi said. "It just depends on what people are comfortable with. Then, even if it comes back positive, that person may not have the active illness."

Naqvi said that most people who are infected with the bacteria have strong enough immune systems to ward the illness off.

"There are people who were exposed to TB and the bacteria was kind of walled off and put to sleep," Naqvi. "That person may be infected with TB, but it won't develop into the actual disease."

Naqvi said these patients with the "sleeping" infection are treated with antibiotics for four to nine months because the illness could become active within two years if it is not treated.

The disease killed 1.5 million people in 2014 and is the leading cause of death for people infected with HIV because people with weaker immune systems are most at risk of having the active version of TB.

World Tuberculosis Day is in remembrance of the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch discovered the bacillus that causes Tuberculosis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention made "Unite to End TB" the theme for 2016.