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Marion County TB Case Unusual

Marion County health officials are keeping an eye on dozen people who've tested positive for tuberculosis- but right now there's no cause for alarm.

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Tuberculosis is a surprisingly ancient disease. A new study published in Nature Genetics traces it back 70-thousand years to human origins in Africa.  Worldwide it kills nearly 1-million people a year. But Florida Department of Health in Marion County spokesperson Craig Ackerman says TB in Florida is on the decline. This summer there was a case at North Marion High school when a student arrived at summer school with an active infection. Ackerman says the case is unusual because TB is hard to catch. For starters, you have to be near someone who has an active infection- meaning they’re coughing up the germ.

“But once the TB germ lands on a surface, it dies, it does not survive well on surfaces, it does not survive if exposed to ultra violet light, so outside in the sunlight it does not survive,” he says.

Plus, Ackerman says you’d have to be close to a TB patient for as long as eight hours to get enough of the germ to be infected.  The North Marion High summer school student infected in July has been treated. Ackerman says the 12 people who have since tested positive may never develop tuberculosis but they are being monitored.  

 

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