February 4, 2008
Graduate student takes steps to help stop spread of TB
By kim urquhart
The Atlanta man who made headlines this summer when he flew overseas knowingly infected with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis was a grim reminder for many Americans that TB, once thought to be on the decline, is still a threat to public health.
Laura McAllister, a graduate student at Rollins School of Public Health who works through Emory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hopes to educate more people about this potentially deadly disease.
“As the world becomes smaller and international travel increases, controlling the spread of this infectious disease becomes even more important,” says McAllister, who is pursuing a master’s of public health in epidemiology.
McAllister and a group of her colleagues in the CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination are collaborating with the National TB Controllers Association to organize a Tuberculosis Awareness Walk on Saturday, March 22, in recognition of World TB Day. The two-mile walk through historic Grant Park aims to raise awareness about the disease, which annually affects about 9 million people globally.
“The goal is for the walk to be a symbol of support, of raising awareness that TB is still around,” says McAllister. Although most TB cases occur in developing countries, there are about 14,000 annual cases in the United States, she says.
McAllister, who initially wanted to be a doctor but became interested in public health because it blended her interests in science and social issues, has laced up her running shoes for similar charity and research-related events with her fellow Rollins students.
Online registration for the walk at www.tbwalk.org is free, and includes a free T-shirt. McAllister encourages Emory students, staff and faculty, and “anyone interested in improving public health,” to participate.