History: Page 3
The Tuberculosis Association of Ohio County in 1951

On April 10, 1951, the name of the organization was changed to the Tuberculosis Association of Ohio County. The change in name reflected the changes that were occurring in the treatment and control of Tuberculosis. As the war against Tuberculosis waged on, other drugs were being used to help those suffering with this formerly fatal disease. Isoniazid and pyrazinamide were being used on strains that were now resistant to streptomycin.

The TB Patch Test became available as a screening mechanism in 1952 and was provided by the Association for all Ohio County school children. Ohio County ranking 9th in population state wide, had the lowest death rate from Tuberculosis of any of the 13 largest counties. The rate was 8.4 deaths per 100,000 population, while the rate in West Virginia was 16.0, and in the United States, 16.1.

Tuberculosis Association of Ohio County information booth

During 1953, the Association endeavored to inform citizens of Ohio County about basic facts concerning Tuberculosis and how it is spread. Ohio County's death rate from Tuberculosis was 5.6 per 100,000 population, compared with 13.9 state wide and 12.5 nationally. The Association sponsored a x-ray project at the Ohio Valley Better Homes Show in May 1954, with a x-ray unit furnished by the State Department of Health. There were 1631 x-rays taken, with one active case of Tuberculosis discovered. Later that year, the Association assisted the City/County and State Health Departments to plan and conduct a 12-day survey. The State's mobile unit took 5490 x-rays.

On May 1, 1960, City Council passed a ruling stating that all food handlers in Ohio County had to have a chest x-ray prior to issuance of a food handler's card. From May 1, 1960 to March 31,1967, a total of 3711 food handlers employed in Ohio County were x-rayed at the Association's office. As new and better drugs were introduced, ethamubutol and rifampin as anti-T.B. agents, the late 60's saw a decline in Tuberculosis. Sanatoriums throughout the United States closed. Government funding for TB Control programs decreased.

Since 1925 the Association had participated in the annual Christmas Seal campaign conducted by the West Virginia Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association (currently known as the American Lung Association) as its major fundraiser. In 1970 the National and State Associations went through a major reorganization process, adopting policies and procedures that would have severely limited the services the local associations were able to provide to the community. With this in mind, board members of the Tuberculosis Association of Ohio County decided it would not be in the best interest of the community to enter into contract for the 1971 Christmas Seals campaign.

The Tuberculosis Association has conducted it's own seal campaign, the Holiday Seal campaign since 1971, soliciting only the people of Ohio County and providing services and programs exclusively for Ohio County residents. The result of the association's desire for autonomy was a law suit initiated by the ALA in an attempt to seize all assets currently held by the association, even those raised independently of the annual "Christmas Seal Campaign". These attempts were not successful. During 1970 and 1971 a total of 3521 x-rays were taken in the Association's office. This service could not have been provided had the Association decided to participate in the national organization, as this was just one of the programs which would have been cut.

During the late 1970's, a new and more deadly disease appeared as threat to humanity. HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, was identified. This disease ability to compromise the immune system allowed long dormant undiagnosed cases of Tuberculosis to break free. There had been a 5% decline annually in new cases of Tuberculosis since the 1950's and a 94% reduction in the mortality rate due to the evolving drug therapy. This was soon to change.

The Smoke Free campaign

In 1992, the Surgeon General of the United States deemed second-hand smoke as a known carcinogen. This prompted the association to develop smoking cessation classes to be offered at no cost to the community. As the mission of the association expanded to include all respiratory diseases, grants were made available to a local non-profit health services provider. Wheeling Health Right was awarded grants to be used for the purchase of respiratory medicines, primarily inhalers for asthmatics.

Project Breathe Easier is the most recent program of the Association. Annually a limited number of air-conditioning units are purchased to be dispensed to low income individuals with severe respiratory disease. This program began in 1994 and to date 15 air-conditioners have been given to those who otherwise could not have afforded them.

Compiled: January 1998
By: Kim L. Moses, Executive Director