The number of new active confirmed cases of tuberculosis increased in 2012 in Lucas County, according to health officials.
There were five new confirmed cases of the disease in the first 10 months of 2012, compared to only two new cases for all of 2011. Statistics for 2012 are still being compiled and are not available for the full year.
While the number of cases is small, treating the highly contagious disease is critical, as TB can spread if not controlled, said Dr. David Grossman, Lucas County health commissioner, speaking Tuesday afternoon in a presentation to Lucas County commissioners.
When a person with infectious TB coughs, droplets containing the tuberculosis germ are expelled into the air, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If another person inhales air containing these droplets, he or she could become infected.
Commissioners approved $40,000 at their meeting Tuesday for the county health department's Tuberculosis Control Unit; the same amount commissioners allocated last year.
The reason for the increase in the disease is unclear, Dr. Grossman said.
"I don't think it represents an outbreak," he said. "I don't think it represents an epidemic."
Ohio recorded 145 TB cases in 2011, according to the state Department of Health. In the United States the same year, 10,528 TB cases were reported, according to the CDC, the lowest recorded figure since national reporting began in 1953.
In the early 1900s, TB killed one out of every seven people in the United States, according to the CDC's Web site, but those numbers declined as medicines used to treat the disease were discovered in the 1940s. As TB control efforts were neglected, however, the disease rebounded and the number of cases increased from 1985 to 1992.
Since 1993, the number of cases has declined, though the disease, particularly drug-resistant strains remain a concern, according to the agency.
"[The disease] has diminished since the olden days, but unfortunately, it doesn't go away," Dr. Grossman said.