Tuberculosis still in the US?

Although causes of Tuberculosis (TB) have been on the decline in the United States since 1993, it is still important to continue to promote a national program for the prevention, control, and the elimination of TB because some groups have a disproportionate share of the disease. In 2012, approximately 84% of cases reported in the United States were in racial/ethnic minorities, and about 63% of cases reported were in foreign-born individuals. 

“In 2014, the disparity in TB incidence between U.S.-born and foreign-born persons continued to increase. The total number of TB cases among foreign-born persons in the United States increased with a total of 6,181 TB cases reported (66.5% of all cases in persons with known national origin), representing a 1.5 percentage point increase from 65% in 2013.” according to the March 2015 report from CDC.

The best tactic to end the spread of this disease is understanding how it is contracted, and how to test for and treat it.

Basic Facts about TB

  • TB is a disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that usually attacks the lungs, but can attack the kidneys, spine, and brain.

  • TB can be fatal if not properly treated.

  • TB is spread from person to person through the air; coughing, sneezing, speaking, or singing. 

  • Not everyone infected with TB becomes sick, but will have latent TB infection.

  • Symptoms of TB may include: bad cough lasting longer than 3 weeks, pain in the chest, coughing up blood, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chill, fever, sweating at night.

  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Females have higher rates of the disease.

  • For travelers, air travel itself carries a relatively low risk of infection with TB.

  • TB can be prevented, treated and cured.

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Visit CDC for more information on Tuberculosis.

What should you do if you think you have been exposed?

If you have been exposed to someone with TB, contact your health care provider and get a TB skin test or TB blood test. If you have been vaccinated for TB with Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG),  the TB blood test is a more reliable test, as the TB skin test may render a false positive.

What is TB as an International Story?

In the United States, reported cases of TB are low, but internationally this disease kills a large number of people. In 2013, The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 9 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease. Of those reported, an estimated 550,000 children became ill and 80,000 children died of TB. Although, these figures represent a drop of 45% between 1990 and 2013, it is estimated that one-third of the world’s population may have  latent TB.

WHO recognizes that there is still a great deal of work to do, and is working with local governments and health officials to dramatically reduce TB with programs to educate the public and help with research and treatment facilities.

You can visit WHO for more information on what they are doing to help end the spread of TB.