5 Tuberculosis cases reported in Black Hawk County this year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

5 Tuberculosis cases reported in Black Hawk County this year

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Public health officials in Black Hawk County say they're investigating five cases of Tuberculosis found this year.

It's not clear what caused the cases.

Iowa is considered a low incident state with just 47 active cases reported in the state in 2013.

5 active cases have been reported in Black Hawk County in just the last 6-8 weeks.

"We could go months and not see a case," said Eileen Daley, manager of disease planning and health surveillance for the Black Hawk County Health Department.

Part of her job is tracking TB.

"The public is not at any risk. We follow a protocol that's established by the Centers for Disease Control. We work closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health and our local health care providers so that when an individual is suspected of having TB, they receive the appropriate treatment," said Daley.

Treatment includes medication and isolation.

Daley says the number of recent cases may be explained by area doctors being more able to accurately diagnose it.

Symptoms include unexplained weight loss, fever, coughing up blood, and night sweats.

"It's an acute illness. Speaking more generally, sometimes people are hospitalized, sometimes not, sometimes they're able to be seen through multiple visits to a health care provider and testing on an outpatient basis and the diagnosis is made that way," said Daley.

It's possible you might have TB and not know it.

How's that possible?

It's called latent TB.

It's not active so it can't be spread.

You can be tested for it.

If you are diagnosed with it, you can take an antibiotic for 6-9 months which severely limits the chances that TB becomes active.

Other county health departments have seen very few, if any, cases this year.

Linn and Johnson Counties haven't seen any TB cases this year.

As for the five cases in Black Hawk County, health officials say they're not all from the same family but their self-imposed quarantines are over, they're healthy again, and testing of latent TB is being done on many of their family members.

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