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World TB Day - March 24, 2014

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 -- By: Lupe Gonzalez, Program Specialist
Texas Dept. of State Health Services
Bi-National Tuberculosis Project JUNTOS

Did you know that chronic cough, blood-tinged sputum, fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss are some of the typical symptoms for Tuberculosis (TB) disease? Did you know that nowadays a person with TB disease can be cured? Tuberculosis disease dates back to over 4,000 years ago and that during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, TB was one of the most feared diseases in the world and the leading cause of death in the United States. Before antibiotics, the only treatment was a regimen of bed rest, open air, and sunshine. Many people died at home of tuberculosis.

The discovery of the causative agent of the disease, called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, was made public on March 24, 1882 by a German microbiologist, Robert Koch. In 1982, a century after Dr. Koch’s announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) sponsored the first World TB Day to educate the public about the devastating disease and economic consequences of TB.

World TB Day, March 24, 2014, is commemorated across the globe with activities to raise awareness about the effects and the control and prevention of tuberculosis.

More than 22 million north-bound legal border crossings are recorded each year through El Paso, Texas by U.S. Customs officials. This suggests a "floating" border population that shares infectious disease agents. Tuberculosis is among the most significant infectious disease problems along the Texas border because of the easy trans-border travel. To address the problem of border TB transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Mexican Secretariat of Health agreed that the two countries must work collectively to control and prevent TB along the 1,900 mile Texas border. Among the services provided are directly observed therapy, contact investigations, sputum collections, chest x-rays, referrals, clinical history, technical assistance, medical consultations and education on the transmission, prevention and treatment of tuberculosis.