OB? Not bad if you need one. CB? Good times on the road. PB? Quite tasty–with or without J. BB? Good training gun for kids to start with. TB? No thanks. Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The disease is poorly understood in the US due to rare infections until the last 20 years or so, TB went nuts here and peaked in 1992. New York City was in some areas more than three times the national average for infections per 100,000 population. There were many reasons listed for this spike, but the two biggest were immigration and AIDS. TB has steadily declined in the US since that time, which you would never know from watching the news. Just like shark attacks, we are exposed to a lot less TB than we probably think due to over-reporting of such stories. But, TB does pop up more when people are poor, dirty and stressed–like we all will be WTSHTF. Abuse of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol are all know to increase the likelihood of contracting TB. So is being underweight, vitamin D deficient, and iron deficient. Chronic disease and immuno-compromise are also big risk factors for developing TB. Most TB cases are from immigrants in the US, with more than half of all US cases in foreign-born individuals.
The treatment of TB will not be something possible in the small, self-sufficient communities created by a major grid-down event. The good thing is that TB will probably not be an issue in these environments either. If there is a member of your family or group infected currently with TB, they will need to live on the periphery of your community and avoid crowded contact to reduce the likelihood of transmission. More than a third of household contacts test positive for TB with an infected family member. Best advice: that person needs to be in their own separate household. Not only coughing, but also singing produces the formation of droplets that carry TB. Risk of infection would exist with socializing with others, which could be markedly reduced with surgical masks on both TB carrier and the people he or she is mixing with. There would still be risk, albeit very small without a coughing, laughing, or singing fit. (We invite comments about this risk if you have the knowledge).
TB cases will likely rise in populated areas with no monitoring of the cases and less treatment available WTSHTF. With less mixing of the population in preppers and rural folk without trips to airports, Mall of America, and the Wal-Mart; TB rates may actually fall in theory. Open air and non-crowded environments help reduce transmission of the disease. Crowding and poverty in areas with infected individuals are the real boosters of risk. Avoid crowding and poverty, even at TEOTWAWKI. You may have heard this somewhere before, but plan ahead. Avoid populated areas with TB-infected individuals that will likely inhabit the major federal camps that will pop up to “help” people. Self-reliance means better health. TB infection will really not be a major issue for those groups and families that are independent WTSHTF. Stay strong.
JWR Adds: Dr. Bob is is one of the few consulting physicians in the U.S. who dispenses antibiotics for disaster preparedness as part of his normal scope of practice. His web site is: SurvivingHealthy.com.