Iowa could be part of a national plan to stamp out tuberculosis. The state’s classified a “low-incidence” state for T-B, according to the public health department’s T-B program manager Allan Lynch. Iowa has 43 active cases, most in Polk County because there are more in highly populated counties. Polk County has 17 cases; Black Hawk County has just six, and Lynch says a rise in cases coincides with a greater foreign-born population. Lynch says the state has a division of quarantine that tests, screens and observes immigrants to see if they have been infected with tuberculosis. If it’s not an active case, they’re put on medications to prevent it from becoming active. In a patient with active tuberculosis, Lynch says the key to eradicating it is have the patient take their medicine…all of it. He says T-B could be stamped out “once and for all” if we enforced directly observed therapy, which means watching people take each dose for the full six to nine months, so they don’t quit taking it when they feel better. Iowa’s low number of T-B cases , one-point-five cases per 100-thousand of population, puts Iowa in the low-incidence states where health officials think it would be possible to virtually wipe out the disease.
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