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Tuberculosis Outbreak Haunts Rural Alabama

Update Date: Jan 21, 2016 10:49 AM EST

In a rural Alabama county with population of just 10, 591 people, local health authorities are enmeshed in a struggle to put to a halt the tuberculosis (TB) outbreak that already resulted in three confirmed deaths.

In three days of widespread testing involving 800 residents of Perry County, doctors and officials from the state's Public Health Department documented 47 positive cases of tuberculosis infection.

"I would say that there are probably not very many towns at all in the United States that have a case rate that high," remarked Pam Barrett of ADPH's Division of Tuberculosis Control as quoted saying by AJC.

The impoverished town of Marion is experiencing a deadly outbreak of tuberculosis that resembles Somalia's. The situation is so severe that its incidence rate stands at 253 cases per 100, 000- a hundred times higher than the statewide average according to Jezebel.

This puts the sleepy Alabama town in the same league of developing countries with extremely high incidence rate of tuberculosis such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Gambia, and Haiti.

The situation has gone increasingly precarious for residents in the TB-inflicted town of Marion.

The fight against TB was losing ground due to residents' poor access to health care services, widespread poverty, and above all, mistrust by the locals against authorities. Health officials explained that it is extremely difficult for their personnel to get some reliable data on the ground that could've possibly helped keep the outbreak from getting worse.

"For most of us, it's not too hard to come up with the main people that you hang around. But if you're doing maybe some things that you don't want other people to know about, or doing some things you're ashamed of, you don't want people in your business, and you're not going to tell me," observed Pam Barrett according to a New York Times article.

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