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Minnesota is going through the largest TB outbreak in the country

Most of the infections have sprung from a senior center in Ramsey County.
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Minnesota is currently going through the largest outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the country, and it's claimed 6 lives already.

The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed on Monday that Ramsey County has had 17 cases of drug-resistant TB in the past two years, which the Pioneer Press describes a "drastic increase" from the one-or-fewer cases seen in other years.

Of the 17 cases, 14 were from the Hmong community and 10 were people who took part in activities at a senior center – namely a card-playing group.

Six of the 17 have died, with three of those deaths being directly caused by TB, though MDH says it doesn't pose a wider health concern to other Minnesotans.

MPR notes that the disease has spread slowly, and because it's difficult to detect health officials think it's likely to be a long time before the outbreak is over. One person in the card-playing group at the senior center had the disease for five years before it was diagnosed.

The outbreak is thought to have originated in Asia, with MPR noting some of the infected people came decades ago from a Thai refugee camp carrying a latent form of the disease, which became active as they got older and their immune systems weakened.

TB is a bacterial infection that typically attacks the lungs but can also affect the kidney, spine and brain, according to the CDC.

It's spread through the air though it's not easy to catch. You mostly get it from prolonged exposure to an infected person – someone you spend time with every day – with the infection transferred when they cough, sneeze or speak.

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