tuberculosis

(Courtesy: Saint Louis University Medical Center)

The World Health Organization has declared tuberculosis a global health emergency.

There is already a TB vaccine given to infants in countries other than the United States  but it was developed more than sixty years ago.  That vaccine protects babies from the worst forms of TB but it does not protect adolescents and adults from a type of tuberculosis which accounts for most cases of the disease.

(CDC/Dr. Ray Butler)

The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state experienced a record low number of new tuberculosis cases last year, but the news isn't all good.

Health officials say Illinois still ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to the number of TB cases. And Health Department Acting Director Arthur Kohrman says many of the new cases are the drug-resistant type, which are harder to overcome.

Officials say 359 cases of active TB were reported in Illinois in 2011. That's a decrease from 372 cases reported in 2010.

(St. Louis Zoo)

A 40-year old Asian elephant at the St. Louis Zoo named "Donna" has tested positive for tuberculosis, but is expected to be just fine.

Donna the Elephant came to the St. Louis zoo as a 3-year old juvenile in 1971.

All elephants get complete medical evaluation each year including blood collection, vaccinations and trunk cultures to look for tuberculosis.

Randy Junge, the Zoo's Director of Animal Health said the 40-year-old pachyderm will live off-display for the next year, but won't be quarantined.