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Tuberculosis testing at L.B. high school

March 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than 150 students and staff at a Long Beach high school will be tested for tuberculosis beginning early next month.A person at Woodrow Wilson High School has developed the highly contagious disease. The person's name is not being released.

Only students and school employees who may have come in contact with the person will be tested.

The school had a similar tuberculosis scare last September.

The news of TB testing comes just before Tuesday's World TB Day, which is an attempt to raise awareness of the disease that affects 9 million people, especially in Asia and Africa.

While TB rates in the United States are declining, there's still reason to worry about the disease. Drug-resistant strains of the contagious disease are showing up in states with large immigrant populations and are becoming harder to treat.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released its annual report on tuberculosis Monday in China. The WHO says more money and better science is urgently needed to control new, drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis.

The WHO says the disease kills more than 1.5 million people every year.

TB develops drug resistance when people are not treated improperly or interrupt their treatment after they start to feel better, which gives bacteria an opportunity to develop a defense against the drugs.

Dr. Cornelia Hennig says better medical tests and new more effective drugs also need to be developed. She says the worst strains are almost untreatable.


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