April 15, 2003
"People left on their own often don't take the full course of antibiotics," said Britton. "But in recent years, we've done a better job of directly supervising people with the active disease."
Using a CDC grant, the state health department also provides free lab testing to determine active TB cases. In the United States, tuberculosis strikes about 16,000 people a year, of whom about 1,000 die. Last year, 15 TB cases in Indiana resulted in death. Of Indiana's TB cases last year, 37 percent were foreign-born, Britton said.
Barbara Weber, TB regional nurse, said employees with Bloomington Hospital's Community Health Services directly observe TB patients taking antibiotics to make sure they take their full course of medicine. The Monroe County Health Department subcontracts CHS to distribute medicine and monitor patients with active TB. "We're flexible, depending on what works best for the patient," Weber said. "The person either comes to us or we go to the person's home."