Tuberculosis cases on the rise in Craighead County

Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 5:42 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Throughout the fall months, people deal with all sorts of respiratory issues, but in Craighead County, there’s another illness making its way around that has doctors worried.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuberculosis cases continue to rise throughout the area.

Dr. Shane Speights is the Craighead County Health Officer. He said this all started 2 years ago.

“Really why this is such a concern now is that it has ballooned, we got about 27 cases that have been identified since 2021 but 19 of those cases have happened this year and we are seeing clusters here in Northeast Arkansas specifically in Forest City, but it is now moving into Craighead County and Jonesboro,” Speights said.

Speights said rising cases of tuberculosis are no joke, and the issue during the fall is with many people having respiratory issues they may not take it seriously.

“It can be a really significant disease that can cause a lot of lung damage and increase the chance of hospitalization, as a matter of fact, 13-14 of those individuals that have been affected have been hospitalized including several children,” Speights said.

Dr. Speights said it is different than the flu and COVID-19 in that there are a couple of things to look for.

“So, the three big things are weight loss, coughing up blood, and night sweats, if you have those you need to get checked,” Speights said.

The Arkansas Department of Health recently shared a post on social media targeting people in Craighead County about the rise in cases with facts they need to know.

Right now, in Craighead County, there are 6 cases, and they may not sound like a lot, but Dr. Speights said it is.

“Six is a lot for Craighead County, this is not a disease that you want to spread, you don’t want to hear numbers of 10, 20, 30, 100, or 1,000 that would be horrific, so this is a lot for our area,” Speights said.

Speights says to be vigilant of symptoms and don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor.