4 Aug 2008

Hawaii to shield public from new TB threats

11:31 am on 4 August 2008

The Hawaii state Health Department is moving to protect Hawaii from exposure to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis after five people died from TB recently in Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports a task force is being formed to plan a coordinated response to the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis cases.

The Health Director, Chiyome Fukino, says there's concern because travel to Hawaii from Micronesia is pretty much open door.

A team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent to Chuuk has finished an investigation.

Dr. Jessie Wing, chief of the Health Department's Tuberculosis Control Branch says the TB cases in Chuuk are resistant to Isoniazid and rifampin, two major drugs used to treat active TB.

Dr Wing said other medications require much longer treatment, 18 to 24 months, and are much more costly.

Hawaii has one of the highest TB rates in US with 115 active cases reported in 2006.