TB Cases Declining, Prevention Activities Still Vital

Are You a Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, or
Primary Care Provider? 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Communicable Diseases, Tuberculosis Control Program (TBCP), is seeking family medicine, internal medicine, or primary care physicians to provide clinical and consultative services on an as-needed basis for patients known or suspected of having tuberculosis.

The need for services is currently greatest in Butler and Lawrence counties, but the TBCP is interested in expanding its network of physicians in all Pennsylvania counties.

Physicians will be required to provide services in accordance with the tuberculosis treatment guidelines advocated by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information, call (717) 787-6267.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s deadliest diseases. The World Health Organization has estimated that 2 billion people — one-third of the world’s population — are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB. Globally, nearly 9 million people develop TB disease each year; in 2013, a total of 1.5 million deaths were attributed to TB.

For World TB Day 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) selected the theme “Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB.” Each year, World TB Day — which recently occurred on March 24 — gives the CDC and state and local health departments the opportunity to educate the public that TB remains a problem in the U.S., where 9,582 TB cases were reported in 2013.

Thanks to improvements in surveillance and prevention and control activities, the number of TB cases reported in the U.S. has declined every year since 1993. Consistent with the overall trend, TB case rates in the U.S.  have declined for U.S.-born persons and almost all racial and ethnic groups.

Despite this progress, racial and ethnic minorities and the foreign-born continue to be disproportionately affected by TB. In 2013, 81 percent of all U.S. TB cases occurred in persons who were Asian, African American, or Hispanic. Foreign born persons – who have accounted for the majority of all U.S. TB cases since 2001 – represented 65 percent of all U.S. TB cases in 2013.

In the state of Pennsylvania, there were 214 TB cases in calendar year (CY) 2013, down 8.5 percent from the total in 2012. While about 42 percent of the cases occurred in Philadelphia County, 30 of the state’s 67 counties (or 45 percent) reported at least one case of TB in CY 2013.

Clinicians and health care workers should suspect TB disease in anyone who has any of the following symptoms – a persistent cough lasting three or more weeks, pain in the chest, bloody sputum, weakness or fatigue, weight loss or loss of appetite, fever, chills, and night sweats – especially if the individual recently traveled in an area where TB is endemic (e.g., Mexico, the Philippines, India, China, Southeast Asia, Central or South America, and Africa).

Known or suspected cases of TB must be reported promptly to the Pennsylvania Department of Health after being identified by symptoms or diagnosis. To report a known or suspected case of TB, contact your local county health department or state health center.

For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of TB, refer to the CDC page for health care providers.