Tuberculosis rate highest in Montgomery County

Coughing, sweating, fever. For 73 Montgomery County residents, last year, these symptoms meant tuberculosis.

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Ulder Tillman said, "In Montgomery County, we have tuberculosis. We actually have the highest rate of tuberculosis in the state of Maryland."

The county has a rate of roughly 7.6 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 residents. That's twice the national average.

Maryland health experts say the number of foreign-born individuals countywide could have something to do with it.

"It's basically because of our immigrant population and the large percentage that are born outside of the U.S.. and coming in," Tillman explained.

It's a national trend, according to Center for Disease Control.

Immigrants accounted for about 63 percent of all recorded tuberculosis cases in 2011.

Tilman added, "They're coming from places where TB is more common and prevalent."

The statistics may be startling, but it's a minimal threat to the average citizen. Experts hope new, more precise testing methods will bring down the numbers.