Two tuberculosis cases have cropped up in Ogle County since late January. That doesn't sound like a lot, but in a county that hadn't seen a single case since 2001, it's causing some alarm.
"You just wonder how many people out there aren't getting treated and don't know they have it and are spreading it to other people in the community," says Ogle County resident Erin Tremble.
Ogle County Health Administrator Doreen O'Brien says that's why they've been screening all close contacts of the two infected people for the disease.
"In the first case, all of the contacts have been tested and those who had a positive test are on preventive meds. And in the second case, we are presently still in the process of testing all of the contacts," says O'Brien.
O'Brien says more than half the first patient's contacts had a latent form of the disease. She says it's very important to track down and treat all the second patient's associates because they could be carrying T.B. without showing symptoms or being contagious, unless they're immune systems break down, allowing the germ to break out.
Says O'Brien, "If you became vulnerable, that nutshell could break open and you could get the active disease."
Tuberculosis is transmitted by breathing in droplets from an infected person's cough or sneeze. O'Brien says you have to spend extended time indoors with an infected person to pick it up. She says the two Ogle cases are not related to each other. Investigations are under way to find their sources.
Tuberculosis symptoms include a cough that lasts several weeks, night sweats and weight loss. Treatment requires nine months of medication under observation. If left untreated, it is usually deadly.. The Winnebago County Health Director says over the last few years we've had seven to ten T.B. cases annually in Winnebago county.