Tuberculosis Disease Could Be
Silently Killing Your Kid(s)
Ashley Ross, MPH
Public Health Coordinator – TB Outreach
Shelby County Health Department
Parents try their hardest to protect their children from negative influences they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Whether it is peer pressure, unhealthy friends, television shows, or the screening of social media pages, parents do it all to ensure the safety of their offspring. But what if what was harming your child or children was something that couldn’t be detected by your sixth sense as a parent? What if what was harming your kid(s) moved around your home every day, and you’ve never thought about how it could inadvertently impact your entire household? What if the threat was simply you? Yes, that’s correct; you may possibly be putting your baby or babies at risk by exposing them to “Pediatric” TB disease.
Tuberculosis infection can go undetected for years in healthy adults before converting into TB disease making them sick. After becoming infectious, parents oftentimes spread their TB germs to loved ones living within their households especially those under five years of age. These germs are spread when parents cough, sneeze, talk, sing, or laugh. The germs are then carried by the air and inhaled by a person not infected with TB. Most pediatric cases of TB disease can be linked to an adult case during a contact investigation. There were twenty-six cases of TB disease among individuals under the age of fifteen in Shelby County between 2012 and 2014, and of that, eighty-one percent were nine years of age or younger. Although tuberculosis can affect anyone, eighty-one percent of the cases were among non-Hispanic, African-American individuals.
This is why it is so important for families to know their tuberculosis statuses. If you have TB infection, treatment is needed to stop it from progressing to TB disease and making you sick in the future. If someone has a definite diagnosis of TB disease, the individual must obtain treatment to prevent it from being spread to children, as well as, the general public.
If you suspect that you or someone you know has tuberculosis disease or infection, please contact the TB Control Program at (901)-222-2664. For more information on tuberculosis, contact Ashley Ross at (901)-222-9651 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.