Tuberculosis in US hits record low, CDC reports

March 20, 2014 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
Tuberculosis in U.S. hits record low: CDC
Improved screening of immigrants contributes to decline.

(HealthDay)—Rates of tuberculosis in the United States are falling, with cases at a historic low, health officials reported Thursday.

Improved screening of immigrants has helped reduce incidence of the highly contagious lung disease, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Tuberculosis continues to decline in the United States, and we are at the lowest number of cases since we have been tracking it," said Dr. Phil LoBue, acting director of the CDC's division of tuberculosis elimination.

According to preliminary data from the CDC's National TB Surveillance, fewer than 9,600 cases were reported in the United States in 2013. That represents a decline of 4.2 percent from 2012—from 3.2 cases per 100,000 people to 3.0 per 100,000.

But health officials aren't celebrating yet. "We still have a long way to go to reach elimination," LoBue said.

Cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis remain a concern, and the rate of TB is still 13 times higher for foreign-born residents than for people born in the country, according to figures published in the March 21 edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and online in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Still, a program that more intensively screens anyone planning to immigrate is having success, health officials said.

Under the tighter screening, twice as many TB cases are diagnosed and treated among immigrants and refugees before their U.S. arrival than with the previous screening program, according to the report.

The program is also cost-effective, saving taxpayers $15 million in annual health care costs, the CDC said.

"We are doing well," LoBue said. "We are making progress, but we still have a long way to go."

According to the report, four states—California, Florida, New York and Texas—reported more than half of all TB cases in 2013.

Also, blacks and Hispanics have a rate of tuberculosis seven times higher than whites. For Asians, the rate is 26 times higher than whites, the researchers found.

Homeless people and those infected with HIV also are at an increased risk for TB, the researchers said.

Of particular concern is TB that is resistant to the usual drug treatments, CDC officials said. Without effective treatment, TB can kill.

Although these cases remain infrequent in the United States, they are difficult and expensive to treat and can be fatal, CDC epidemiologist Suzanne Marks said.

"Treatment uses very expensive medications and requires hospitalization for about 75 percent of patients," she said.

On average, the direct cost of treating multi-drug-resistant TB is $134,000, climbing to $430,000 for the most resistant cases, Marks said.

That compares with $17,000 for treating drug-susceptible TB, she said.

"We still have about 1 percent to 2 percent of our TB cases that have significant drug resistance," LoBue said.

Eighty-six cases of drug-resistant TB were reported in the United States in 2012, the most recent year for which complete data is available. In 2013, two cases of extensively drug-resistant TB were reported nationally, the same as in 2012, the researchers said.

"We have a very strong TB control system in the United States, but there is always a potential risk because drug-resistant TB continues to be a major problem throughout the rest of the world," LoBue said.

"There is some evidence that it might be slightly increasing," he said.

Marks said it takes as long as two years to treat drug-resistant TB, compared with six months for drug-susceptible TB.

Although the United States is seeing progress against TB, the disease is epidemic elsewhere. Worldwide, 8.6 million new cases and almost 1 million deaths were reported in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.

Nationally, U.S. know elimination of TB won't happen anytime soon.

Having less than one case per 1 million people would signal elimination, LoBue said. "At the current rate of decline, we wouldn't reach that level for about 100 years," he said.

Explore further: Tuberculosis in US hits record low

More information: For more information on tuberculosis, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related Stories

Tuberculosis in US hits record low

March 21, 2013
Cases of tuberculosis reached an all-time low in the United States last year, but the disease continued to affect minorities at much higher rates than whites, health authorities said Thursday.

Probe highlights risk from South Africa's drug-resistant TB

January 17, 2014
A long-term probe has found that South Africans with highly drug-resistant TB are "systematically" discharged from hospital without being cured, placing themselves and others at risk, its authors said Friday.

China halves tuberculosis prevalence in just 20 years

March 17, 2014
Over the last 20 years, China has more than halved its tuberculosis (TB) prevalence, with rates falling from 170 to 59 per 100 000 population. This unrivalled success has been driven by a massive scale-up of the directly ...

Myanmar receives high-tech TB detection machines

September 10, 2013
Myanmar on Tuesday received four state-of-the-art machines to detect drug-resistant tuberculosis, one of its major health problems.

U.S. tuberculosis cases hit record low, CDC says

March 22, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Tuberculosis rates fell to an all-time low in the United States in 2011, but the disease continues to disproportionately infect racial and ethnic minorities, those who are foreign-born and people infected with ...

Recommended for you

Fatty liver can cause damage to other organs via crosstalk

August 21, 2017
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common. Approximately every third adult in industrialized countries has a morbidly fatty liver. This not only increases the risk of chronic liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis ...

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

New test differentiates between Lyme disease, similar illness

August 16, 2017
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. But it can be confused with similar conditions, including Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. A team of researchers led by Colorado ...

Addressing superbug resistance with phage therapy

August 16, 2017
International research involving a Monash biologist shows that bacteriophage therapy – a process whereby bacterial viruses attack and destroy specific strains of bacteria - can be used successfully to treat systemic, multidrug ...

Can previous exposure to west Nile alter the course of Zika?

August 15, 2017
West Nile virus is no stranger to the U.S.-Mexico border; thousands of people in the region have contracted the mosquito-borne virus in the past. But could this previous exposure affect how intensely Zika sickens someone ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.