Robert Bentley provides emergency funding to fight TB outbreak

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Gov. Robert Bentley authorized the dispersion of emergency funds to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Friday in support of its ongoing effort to battle a Tuberculosis (TB) outbreak in Perry County.

The governor authorized more than $235,000 to provide for testing, follow-up and treatment for residents of Perry County. According to a news release from the ADPH, two additional people were recently found to be infected with the disease, one a child under 15.

“We are dealing with a very aggressive TB outbreak in Perry County, and it is important that the Alabama Department of Public Health have all available resources to help treat and mitigate this disease,” Bentley said in a news release. “As a doctor, I know the importance of treating any disease early and often, and as Alabama’s governor, I have resources to help. I approved emergency funding to ADPH specifically to assist with TB screenings and treatments. I hope with this extra funding, we will be able to contain this outbreak from spreading into other parts of the state and treat those with Tuberculosis.”

As of Feb. 2, the ADPH has screened more than 2,000 patients for the illness and found more than 150 to be infected. The release notes that people with “the TB germ are not contagious and cannot transmit the TB germ to other people.”

The majority of those who tested positive are already on preventative medication.

The ADPH will host an additional day of screening for children at Francis Marion High School on Wednesday.

Symptoms of TB include “a cough lasting more than two weeks, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, weight loss and fatigue.” However, patients may be infected and show none of those symptoms.

“We are actively working to reduce the number of TB cases in Marion and other surrounding areas, and I greatly appreciate the Governor’s support in our efforts,” Acting State Health Officer Dr. Tom Miller said in the release. “TB is a very serious disease, and employees at the ADPH are working hard to identify and test residents in Perry County with the disease. We are dealing with an unusual outbreak, and it is important that we take a unique approach to addressing this problem. Governor Bentley’s proactive efforts to provide additional aid are a testament to his dedication as both governor and a physician.”