Living lungs. This disease is preventable, treatable and

Living in La Porte, TX, one of the
public health services my local government prides itself is the safety and maintenance
of clean drinking water as a part of the 6th Essential Public Health
Service—enforcing laws and regulations. The biggest threats to safe drinking
water are chemical, bacterial and hard metal contamination. The Water
Production division ensures safe drinking water for a system that provides
treated water to the coastal cities of La Porte, Morgan’s Point, and
Shoreacres.1

The City of La Porte water system
consists of 231 miles of water mains with an average total consumption of 32
million gallons per day.2 The system has regularly been rated as a “Superior”
Public Water System by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ),
most recently in 2016. The TCEQ assesses the operations and construction of the
over 6,000 public water systems in the state of Texas. To earn the distinction
of the “Superior” rating, a water system has to meet the rigorous standards established
by the TCEQ and go beyond the minimum requirements for water quality and safety.3
Less than 5% of water systems will receive this rating in any given year and
only around 10% have ever achieve in the state, according to TCEQ records. 4

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The nearby water systems of Deep
Park has also been rated as “Superior”3 and is another city that lines
the ship channel and is economically supported by refinery work.  As a longtime resident of this area I have always
had the impression that because of these refineries there is concern about air
and water quality.   There appears to be
a strong public health and public relations initiatives to ensure and show that
these are safe places to live.  I do not
know in how many other cities residents would know their water system ratings,
but it is almost common knowledge here.

 

 

 

 

The disease I have chosen that has
had a historical and significant public health implication is tuberculosis (TB).
To limit the scope of the topic I will be examining the disease’s activity
within the United States. The bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is
the underlying cause of TB and typically affects the lungs. This disease is
preventable, treatable and curable.1 TB is transferred from person
to person through air particles.  Someone
infected with TB, while contagious, will have the bacteria in their lungs and
when they sneeze or cough, the bacteria is released into the air.  Another individual needs only to inhale a few
particles to become infected themselves.2 Remarkably nearly a third
of the global population is infected with TB but in its latent stage so they
are not yet ill and cannot transfer the disease.  Most will not develop the disease, but those
with weak or compromised immune systems are at risk of developing active TB.3

Its
current status in 2016, 9,272 case of TB reported within the United States,
a 3% decline from the year before.  The four
largest states, California, Texas, Florida and New York, had the highest number
of cases and a total of a little over half of all cases reported.1  The main institutions working to alleviate
the burden of TB is the CDC and local health departments.  They surveil the disease across the U.S. and
work together to create and distribute information regarding TB prevention and
control.2

Medicine’s role in TB is to treat
the individual with a 6 month course of four different antibiotics and report
cases to the CDC.3  Public
health’s role is to monitor and supervise cases, aggregate data or the disease,
target vulnerable populations for surveillance and screenings.  Targeting high-risk individuals for testing
and treatment is the best course of action to prevent TB.  In the last 20 years over this partnership between
medicine and public health has saved over 50 million lives.4  

The
potential prize for reducing or eliminating TB would be to eliminate a disease
that has shown some antibiotic resistance in rare and international cases. Most importantly, without the
correct treatments, as many as 70% of people who become ill with the disease
will not survive.5  While
remarkable progress has been made, this disease still contains a potential
health threat to individual and communities and the continued work to eliminate
this deadly disease could save many more lives.