The Fort Bend County Commissioners Court on May 23 approved a grant to the county’s Tuberculosis Program, which will be used to support the Clinical Health Service team’s staff and services.

The grant, funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services, was $441,791 and will support chest X-rays, CT scans and laboratory services. The grant was originally approved in 2007 and is part of an annual renewal of the program, which was extended to August 2024 at the Commissioners Court session.

Fort Bend County’s Tuberculosis Program works to decrease the disease’s transmission through education, screening, and treating latent and active cases. Staff also perform investigations when cases are reported to identify anyone potentially exposed.

The Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Administration identifies tuberculosis as an infectious disease occurring primarily in the lungs but with the ability to affect any organ. The disease is treatable and preventable but, if left untreated, can cause severe illness or death.

Kaila Williams, director of health communications, equity and engagement for Fort Bend County, said a peak of tuberculosis cases was seen in the county in 2021. According to the county’s Community Health Assessment, the county’s stated objective is to reduce the number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people to 1.4, which would require a reduction by over half the rate.

Williams said Texas remains one of the highest states for tuberculosis cases in the country while also saying Fort Bend County averages in the top 10 counties for cases annually. 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data shows Texas as one of the top four states that make up almost half of all tuberculosis cases in the country with 12.7% of national cases.

“Fort Bend County is a global community with the means to travel for business and pleasure which increases the potential for our residents to be exposed if public health is not vigilant in following guidelines for screening and follow up for persons with symptoms and risk factors,” Williams said in an emailed statement.