March 24, 2003
The rise in cases breaks a pattern of declining TB over the past decade in Florida. Broward County last year saw its cases hold steady at 105, while Miami-Dade County cases fell by more than 30, to 257, state figures showed.
Naouri said the county is finding more TB cases because he has urged hospitals and physicians to be more vigilant about reporting suspected infections. Most South Florida TB cases are found in people born in countries where the disease is prevalent, namely Haiti and Caribbean nations. Many carry the bacteria dormant for years, then get sick when their immune systems become weakened by stress or a serious illness, such as HIV or diabetes, he said.
More cases would be expected in areas such as Delray Beach and Boynton Beach where the Caribbean population is growing, Naouri said. The Health Department is enlisting community groups for immigrants to help organize TB testing and education events. TB issues were to be discussed at a conference for World Tuberculosis Day, from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. today at A.G. Holley State hospital for TB in Lantana. Information on other events is available from the American Lung Association at 954-524-4657.