What It’s Like To Live With Tuberculosis In The United States

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  • By Lauren Weber The Morning Email Editor, The Huffington Post

In August 2014, Kate O’Brien, a 34-year-old media producer from Brooklyn, found out she was expecting her second child.

She was ecstatic. But this pregnancy didn’t proceed like the first. For the next few months, O’Brien had a cold she couldn’t shake. She woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. She wanted to blame it on her pregnancy, yet she kept losing weight.

She could barely eat. She coughed up balls of bloody mucus. Her throat burned. None of her doctors could figure out what was wrong.

A physician sent her to Mount Sinai West Hospital in Manhattan in January 2015, when, at five months pregnant, she still couldn’t gain any weight.

“No one likes a skinny pregnant lady,” she said.

O’Brien expected to stay at the hospital overnight. She didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to her 2-year-old, Donny, but she figured she’d be home soon.

She didn’t walk out of the hospital for 75 days.

The doctors at Mount Sinai diagnosed O’Brien with infectious tuberculosis. After a few days in the intensive care unit, she was shifted to a negative-pressure isolation room, which helps contain the infected air. Signs announcing “WARNING: Infectious Disease” were affixed to the room’s airtight set of double doors. And all O’Brien could think about was what this meant for her unborn baby.

The federal policy that governs medical isolation and quarantine in the U.S. applies to just a handful of diseases. Most of them, such as cholera, smallpox and the plague, are vanishingly rare in the U.S. But tuberculosis is not. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 9,563 new cases of TB.

That same year, for the first time since 1992, the number of tuberculosis cases in the U.S. rose, according to the CDC. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported more cases in 2015 than they did in 2014. The per-capita rate of tuberculosis cases has plateaued at three infections per 100,000 people.

Read more: http://goo.gl/wSPDl4


Sanitation in Ghana: A Disaster or a Challenge?

Ghana 3After many years of independence Ghana is one of the countries in Africa facing waste disposal, recycling and poor drainage problems.

Original article published in Huffingtonpost.com by Karen Curley

When one walks down the streets in Makola Market, you are overwhelmed by all of the trash that litters the streets. Trash and waste are everywhere. Accra is the capital of Ghana and is a modern city, yet there is garbage all over. There are many reasons for this:

Lack of Proper Sanitation Only 77.5% of homes have toilets. Only 30% have flush toilets. The average person in Accra has to share toilets with 10 or more persons in public latrines. Lack of plumbing has led to huge amounts of water being dumped on the streets.

Lack of a Working Sanitation System Waste removal is for the wealthy because they can afford it. Only 60% of the population has regular waste collection. As of June 17th, all 3 refuse dump sites were closed down. Because of this open sewers and rains are full of trash. Most of the pipes are in polluted gutters. Broken or vandalized ones are open to germs.

Lack of Public Awareness and Proper Education about Causes and Prevention of Diseases There is a lack of information to the public about how diseases spread because of germs and poor sanitation.

Most people are not aware that Accra’s trash problem is a growing cause of many of its diseases. In 2008 over 700US million dollars was spent on treating malaria in Ghana. That figure has not slowed down. Malaria is the number one health problem all over Ghana, especially in Accra.

Malaria accounted for 53% of Accra’s illnesses last year. According to the National Malaria Control Programme, “During 2009, a person in Ghana died from malaria about every 3 hours. This means about 3,000 people died of malaria in Ghana that year alone, most of them children. Cholera is another big problem in Ghana. As of November 2011, cholera has claimed 101 lives.

There have been 10,002 cases reported in Ghana. The cholera outbreak has been directly linked to a lack of proper refuse dumping sites and improper disposal of waste. Deputy Health Minister Rojo Mettle Nunoo has asked assemblies to implement their sanitation by-laws.

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When will Africa or Ghana rise above this? Ghana needs to embark on underground drainage system. 

He has stated that Accra and other larger cities face a 13% chance of a cholera epidemic. He also stated that frequent occurrences of the outbreak happen because many homes, work places, and public places do not have facilities.

So where does Accra go from here? The biggest problem facing Accra is that of mindset. Accra’s people need to adjust their mindset to the changing times. It is no longer ok to throw trash on the ground and in their gutters.

People must educate themselves on the dangers of inadequate sanitation and begin using garbage containers. Authorities from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) must implement proper sanitation planning. Without, the above Accra will continue on its course with disease and death.

The Writer

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Karen Curley is an international photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. Her pictures have been seen in many publications including Spin Magazine, US Weekly, and InStyle Magazine.

Her pictures have also been featured on the Conan O’Brien show. She has worked internationally for The Accra Mail in Ghana Africa. Her passion is urban photography. Her work with the homeless has been shown in galleries all over Los Angeles.