Montgomery County is seeing an increase in three rare diseases: pertussis, legionella and turberculosis.
Cases of all three ailments are on the rise, although there are still well under 100 likely cases of each in a county with a population nearing 1 million. But it is still an alarm for public health officials.
The increase in tuberculosis is most concerning to Dr. Ulder Tillman, the county's chief health officer, as she told the county council during a briefing Tuesday. The rise comes as cases of the disease are falling statewide, she said.
Tillman attributed the increase to the growing immigrant population in the county, which in turn makes tuberculosis prevention efforts very difficult.
"We're doing our best, but it's really the nature of our community, our demographic makeup, where people come from," she said. "They are bringing it with them. And it's something we need to look for."
Since disease prevention isn't likely to work in this particular case, Tillman feels the county would be better off raising awareness about tuberculosis within the immigrant population and making treatment of it easy to get.