TB Outbreak in Alabama Town Surpasses that of Third-World Countries

TB Outbreak in Alabama Town Surpasses that of Third-World Countries
Science & Medicine

Alabama health officials are offering some residents $160 to be screened and treated for tuberculosis after an outbreak of the disease killed 3 people and sickened 26.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said it will dispatch extra nurses and TB investigators to Marion, a town 80 miles west of the capital of Montgomery, where the outbreak has been centralized.

In fact, the infection rate in Marion is higher than those in many third-world countries. [1]

“This is a case rate of 253 per 100,000 population in the town of Marion. This far exceeds the TB case rate of 2.5 per 100,000 in the whole state of Alabama in 2015,” the department stated in a media release.

Twenty of the individuals sickened by the outbreak, which began in January 2014, have ties to Marion; 4 are from the Tuscaloosa area and 2 are from Centreville.

Of the 26, 4 are children. Three adults have died.

The Perry County Health Department said it would offer Marion residents:

  • $20 for a TB blood screening test
  • $20 for keeping an appointment for a chest X-ray if necessary
  • And $100 to patients who follow through with medication and treatment if necessary.

All of the measures will be available from Jan. 11 through Jan. 29.

Pam Barrett, director of the division of tuberculosis control for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said:

“People just are not willing to give information to our staff. The thing that we’re hoping to accomplish is to find the people who are infected with the bacteria that have not developed disease, that we can get treated preventatively and hopefully find other cases that may be reluctant to come in and be screened.

…There is a huge stigma with TB in this community.

…This is so important and of such concern that we are giving monetary incentives to people who come in for screening and necessary treatment.” [2] [3]

TB has surpassed HIV as the leading cause of global death, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in October 2015. Most deaths from the disease are preventable.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough lasting longer than 2 weeks, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, weight loss, and fatigue. It is possible to carry the disease but display no symptoms. Preventative treatment can help patients avoid getting sick. Treatment of the disease lasts a minimum of 6 months.


[1] Fox News

[2] WIAT

[3] AL.com