12 OYS: What parents need to know about TB

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News 12 This Morning/Thursday April 17, 2014

RICHMOND CO., Ga. (WRDW)--"TB is a bacterial infection. It affects mainly lungs in the body," said Dr. Tarak Patel, an infectious diseases physician.

Patel says actual cases of tuberculosis infection rarely show up in the U.S. "because we have a good health system, TB has been almost eliminated from the U.S. in the last two centuries," Patel explained.

Most of the time doctors find a person has been only exposed to TB germs like in the case of one student at Hephzibah High school, who is now being tested to see if it is, in fact, TB.

"When they are exposed, if we detect that they have the TB germs in their body we can give them medication to prevent full blown case of TB," said Patel.

That's where the screening process comes in.

"The screening process could be the TB test, which they do on the skin, or the blood test," he explaind. "And, once we test whether they have been exposed to TB then they should get treated so they don't have a full blown infection."

Although Patel says hot hand washing is always a good rule of thumb, unfortunately it doesn't do much to help against TB because it's spread through the air.

"Contact is not a big issue, like by touching and kissing...but cough is the biggest issue," said Patel. "It spreads by cough. When we cough, we cough out droplets and it spreads," he explained.

For parents worried about what will happen if their child's exposed, Patel says not to panic.

"It's a treatable disease," he said. "It's not a death sentence and as long as people get screened on time and prophylaxed with the treatment, then they will not get any major issues in the future."

If you've got additional questions about TB click the attached link, or you can contact the Richmond County Board of Health's TB Control program Monday - Friday between 8 am and 5 pm at 706-721-5840.

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