Alabama Officials To Pay Sickened For TB Screening, Treatment After 3 Deaths

Alabama Officials
Alabama health officials announced it will pay up to $160 for residents be screened and treated for tuberculosis, a lung disease that is spread through the air from person to person. Officials in Perry County, Ala., said there has been an alarming uptick in the humber of cases since a 2014 outbreak. Image by Tatiana Shepeleva/Shutterstock

MARION, Ala., Jan. 8 (UPI) — Alabama health officials announced the state will pay some residents up to $160 to be screened and treated for tuberculosis in the midst of an outbreak that has killed three and sickened 26.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said it will send extra nurses and TB investigators to the town of Marion, located about 80 miles west of the state capital Montgomery, where the outbreak has been centralized.

Of the 26 patients in the state diagnosed with the disease since January 2014, 20 have ties to Marion, four are from the nearby Tuscaloosa area and two are from Centreville, the health department said. Of the 26, four are children. Three adults have died.

“This is so important and of such concern that we are giving monetary incentives to people who come in for screening and necessary treatment,” Pam Barrett, director of the Division of TB Control, said.

From Jan. 11 through Jan. 29, the Perry County Health Department will give $20 for a TB screening blood test, $20 to anyone returning for the test results, $20 for keeping an appointment for a chest X-ray if necessary and $100 to patients who follow through with medication and treatment if necessary.

Symptoms of TB include a cough lasting more than two weeks, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, weight loss and fatigue. Patients infected with the disease may have no symptoms. There is preventative treatment that can be administered before the illness sets in.

“People just are not willing to give information to our staff,” Barrett said. “The thing that we’re hoping to accomplish is to find the people who are infected with the bacteria that have not developed disease, that we can get treated preventatively and hopefully find other cases that may be reluctant to come in and be screened.”

In October, HIV-as-leading-global-cause-of-death/7391446056825/” target=”_blank”>the World Health Organization reported TB has surpassed human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, as the leading cause of global death. Most TB deaths are preventable, health officials said.


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