Shelby Co. Seeing Progress in Eliminating TB

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(Memphis) Every year the Shelby County Health Department spends over a million dollars to fight tuberculosis deaths, and now the state is also chipping in.

The state is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars where it’s most needed in Tennessee, and doctors say it’s making a difference.

Since 2005 here in Shelby County they’ve cut the number of cases in half but there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

Shelby County has double the number of Tuberculosis cases than any other place in the state of Tennessee. 

“It has a lot to do with the population, with the demographics, a lot of times poverty also leads to cases of tuberculosis,” said Infectious Diseases Dr. Minoj Jain.

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by bacteria that can attack any part of your body, especially the lungs.  Dr. Jain says TB can lead to death, but it can also be treated if caught early. 

A big part of the battle in places like Shelby County is getting people to come in to see a doctor. 

“Lots of times patients don’t know that they have TB.  TB has symptoms which are very insidious,” said Dr. Jain.

Some of those symptoms include a low fever, night sweats, a cough, and weight loss over the period of a few weeks. 

Dr. Jain says Shelby County is being very aggressive and progressive in fighting TB by tracking possible contamination when a sick person comes in for treatment, and the health department never turns anyone away.

“Cases of tuberculosis are treated for free.  Patients do not have to pay a penny for testing or for treatment by the health department,” said Jain.

Dr. Jain is also working in his hometown in India to eliminate deaths from TB. 

His program called Healthy Indore is seeing progress, and Jain says improvement in India and eradication in the US are within reach.