Alabama prisons are facing their worst outbreak of tuberculosis in five years, a state health official told the Associated Press on Thursday. The state is facing a lawsuit over its medical treatment of inmates in a crowded system. Officials have diagnosed nine cases of tuberculosis, the state’s largest outbreak in five years, the report said. Since 2009, Alabama has averaged fewer than five cases of TB every year.
The disease is spread through the air, suspended on tiny droplets released in a sneeze or a cough, according to the Mayo Clinic. The World Health Organization notes that TB is the second-deadliest infectious disease in the world behind HIV/AIDS, causing 1.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012.