Recent breakouts of measles around the country spurs me to remind Alaskans that the most infectious disease is not measles, it’s tuberculosis.
Surveys from 1948-1951 found that TB was most serious along the lower Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, where 75 percent of Alaska Native children aged birth through 8 had positive TB skin tests. In 2016, Alaska’s TB rate was nearly three times higher than the national rate. The Yukon-Kuskokwim area is still our most infected area. Only a “crash” attack carried on with intensity will make it possible to break the back of this No. 1 infectious disease.
Now measles is again on the uptick. Both these diseases are preventable and nearer to being eradicated forever.
The U.S. needs to support the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. This investment does more than save lives and lower disease rates — it keeps Americans safe because the rapid spread of new infections is among the most likely scenario’s to cause the deaths of tens of millions of people.
We cannot afford to lose the momentum in the fight to end AIDS, TB and malaria. Urge this administration and Alaska’s members of Congress to make an early pledge to the Global Fund’s sixth replacement.
— Mary Martin
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