Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tuberculosis: A rising concern on U.S. southern border

Cases of tuberculosis have been steadily decreasing in the United States – except along the southern border and within the Mexican-born population where cases are on the rise.

“Most alarming is the increase in multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis on both sides of the border,” says Polly Price, an Emory law professor and an expert on immigration. “Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis is very expensive to treat. It’s a very debilitating disease, many people don’t survive. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed at the national level.”

Tuberculosis requires a long course of treatment, 12 months or more, so continuity of care is the primary issue along the border, Price says. She is developing a guide to U.S. laws pertaining to tuberculosis treatment for states along the border.

“California, Arizona, Mew Mexico and Texas all have slightly different procedures for how to treat tuberculosis, what do to with a non-compliant patient, how to follow that patient and make sure the treatment regimen is followed,” Price says. “So just coordinating laws on the U.S. side is something of a big task.”

Price is also working on a best-practices guide for health care workers dealing with the situation along the border. “The law should help in this situation, it should not hinder in the efforts to provide tuberculosis care,” Price says.

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