Understanding Tuberculosis and how to treat it

LAS VEGAS - Tuberculosis is a common disease that can be treated, cured, and prevented, but if it's left untreated, it can be deadly.

About 80 people at Fremont Middle School had to be tested for TB after a school employee, Maria Alvarez, died of the disease in mid-July.  More than a hundred people were exposed.

Some of the Telltale signs to look out for are coughing, weight loss, night sweats, and a high fever.

"If it is properly diagnosed and treatment has started there's no reason somebody should die," said  Shadaba Asad MD Infectious Disease, UMC.  "In the U.S, TB treatment is a direct observed therapy which means that you have to report to the department of health every day and show them that you're actually taking your medication."

"A person with tuberculosis, the reason why there is an emphasis on directly observed therapy is it's a public health issue," said Dr. Asad. "It doesn't just have to do with the health of that person who has TB, that person is a risk to everybody around him."

So how does someone catch tuberculosis?

"You typically acquire the bacteria when somebody who has an active tuberculosis is coughing," Dr. Asad said. "The bacteria travel in small droplets they enter your body by inhalation."

Asad says there are three things that can happen after that: Your immune system fights it off; it causes an infection, but your immune system controls it or it causes active tuberculosis.

Health officials say people recently infected with Tuberculosis and people with weaker immune systems are more susceptible to catching the disease. 

Here's a reminder for parents: All CCSD students starting middle school, as well as new students starting middle or high school will have to get a meningitis shot.

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