March 27, 2003
Despite dwindling numbers of tuberculosis cases across Illinois, the number of people with the disease in St. Claire County nearly tripled, from its lowest caseload of four in 2001 to 11 in 2002. Illinois Department of Public Health spokesperson Tammy Leonard blamed the resurgence on the perception that TB has been eliminated, leading to a reduction in funding for research and treatment. St. Clair County Health Department of Infectious Disease Prevention Services Director Brenda Rhodes said people often carry the disease for years without knowing it. "When they become older and their bodies start to break down a little bit, the cases become active. But you don't hear a lot about it because nobody admits they have it because, for some reason, that disease has a lot of stigma to it," Rhodes said.