Tuberculosis Cases Up in State of Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tuberculosis Cases Up in State of Washington

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OLYMPIA, WA - Tuberculosis cases are up in Washington state for the first time after several years of decline.

209 cases were reported last year, a 13 percent increase from the 185 cases reported in 2012. The tuberculosis rate in the state has consistently been lower than the national average, but in 2013 it matched the national rate.

"Tuberculosis can be a very serious, even fatal, disease. Treatment is difficult for people because it requires taking multiple medications for several months," State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said. "It's important for public health and the healthcare community to stay vigilant and work together to control tuberculosis."

TB is a dangerous, bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs but can also attack other parts of the body. Symptoms include fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, and a persistent cough. Some people however may have no symptoms.

Quick treatment with antibiotics is the key to avoid death and less severe symptoms. People with HIV or AIDS, individuals younger than 5 and older than 50, and those with weakened immune systems are at increased risk. The disease is spread in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks and others breathe in the bacteria. The counties with the most cases in 2013 were King (114), Snohomish (26), Pierce (22), Spokane (7), Clark (5), and Thurston (5).