Marion Tuberculosis Outbreak Continues, Mardi Gras in Tuscaloosa

Feb 5, 2016

A tuberculosis outbreak is continuing in the small Alabama town of Marion.

Alabama Department of Public Health officials say two more people have tested positive for TB in Perry County. Division of tuberculosis control director Pam Barrett says one case of the infection was diagnosed in a child less than 15 years old.

Officials say the tuberculosis outbreak has killed three people since 2011, prompting more aggressive screening efforts in Marion. Those efforts included paying residents to get tested, attend follow-up appointments and complete necessary treatment.

Barrett says more than 2,000 people in Marion, nearly two-thirds of the city, have been tested. 151 have latent infections which aren't contagious and 29 have active tuberculosis. Officials say those with latent infections will get treatment to prevent those infections from developing into tuberculosis disease, which is contagious.

A taste of Mardi Gras comes to Tuscaloosa starting tonight.

The Mystic Krewe of Druids is hosting its annual Bal Masque event at the Bama Theater. Bal Masque is a Mardi Gras celebration with a different theme every year. The 2016 edition is called “Let’s Dance” with music by the late David Bowie and the Spice Girls. The show benefits the advocacy organization West Alabama AIDS Outreach.

Steven Yates is a Lieutenant for the Krewe. He says Bal Masque is a fun event, but AIDS outreach is why he’s been involved for the past ten years.

“We’re able to be directly impact the lives of people in West Alabama with what we’re doing for this event. And that’s why so many of us continue to do it year after year is because we’re just committed to this important cause and raising awareness of HIV in our area, and helping people understand what it is and what it’s not.”

Bal Masque itself will be held tomorrow at the Bama Theatre. But the event gets underway tonight with The Captain’s Party at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. General admission tickets are $40.

Troy University will observe black history month starting today through its 2016 Leadership Conference.

The theme of the gathering is “remembering our origins, opportunities, truth and spirituality.” The first part of the conference will begin tonight with actor, dancer and director Jasmine Guy as one of the keynote speakers. Juanita Jones Abernathy will also give a talk. She’s the widow of the Reverend Ralph Abernathy.

City of Troy spokesman Isaiah Scott says the conference is a great way to learn more about black history.

“The conference registration is $30. You get a conference bag that’s very nice that we’ve been able to provide to all participants. Thirty dollars is a very cheap cost, and that’s one thing that the committee tries to do is keep it cost- efficient for everyone to be able to attend.”

Previous speakers at the Troy University Leadership conference have included actor Hill Harper of the television show CSI: New York, and Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.