Health Department gets GC approval for TB grant

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat

Grayson County commissioners Tuesday approved a contract extending the county's Health Department's contract with the state of Texas for treating tuberculosis.

The contract extension means $15,583 more dollars for the Health Department to put toward treating TB but the county will have to pay $3,117 in matching funds to get the extra money. The contract approved Tuesday extends the county's contract with the state over TB services into 2021. 

GCHD Director Amanda Ortez talks at a recent meeting of the commissioners.

GCHD Director Amanda Ortez said the contract says that the county must treat people who are referred to them with TB from infectious disease doctors regardless of the person's insurances status. 

Grayson County Commissioner Jeff Whitmire asked Ortez if people still get TB. 

"Yes, yes they do," she said. 

Texas Department of State Health Services website says, "TB can affect anyone but is more likely to be diagnosed in persons born in a foreign country where TB is prevalent, persons living with diabetes or HIV/AIDS, persons who abuse alcohol and other drugs, persons who live in congregate settings (including prisons and other detention centers), people who experience homelessness, and health care workers."

Grayson County is relatively close to two of the state's TB hotspots in Collin and Tarrant counties. 

Information on the Texas Department of State Health Services website shows that Grayson County has had 19 cases since 2015. 

That website said that in 2019, there were 1,1,61 cases reported in the state as a whole. In 2018, there were 1,129 cases which would be about 3.9 cases per 100,000 Texans.

TB is treatable with the right prescription drugs though there are some strains that are more resistant to treatment than others. 

The TDSHS website said that Grayson County had three TB cases in 2015, two in 2016, three in 2017, five in 2018 and one in 2019. 

The site said Fannin County had one case in 2015, none in 2016 and 2017, and two in 2018. Fannin County had one case in 2019. Cooke County had no TB cases in 2015 and one case in 2016. It had no TB cases in either 2018 or 2019.