Monday, March 24th is World TB Day: Tuberculosis Remains a Life-Threatening Problem in the United States


From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date: March 24, 2014

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

Monday, March 24th is World TB Day

Tuberculosis Remains a Life-Threatening Problem in the United States

ERIE COUNTY, NY—The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) joins in recognizing Monday, March 24, 2014 as World TB Day. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB).

“World TB Day provides the opportunity to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions and to support worldwide TB-control efforts. While great strides have been made to control and cure TB, people still get sick and die from this disease in our country. Much more needs to be done to eliminate this disease” said Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

This year the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) selected the theme "Find TB. Treat TB. Working Together to Eliminate TB."  This theme highlights the fact that TB is still a life-threatening problem in the United States, despite the declining number of TB cases.

Burstein continued: “Anyone can get TB, and our current efforts to find and treat latent TB infection and TB disease are not sufficient. Misdiagnosis of TB still exists and health care professionals often do not "think TB”.  In 2013, we had 20 cases of TB in Erie County for a rate of 2.2 cases per 100,000 residents. In addition, we had 2,781 visits to our TB clinic at 608 William Street in Buffalo.”  In 2013 New York State again ranked third in number of TB cases, and its case rate (4.5/100,000) continues to be one of the highest in the country.

TB is spread by airborne transmission of the bacterium, often through a cough or sneeze. The disease usually affects the lungs, but can impact other body parts such as the lymph nodes, kidneys, bones or joints. Symptoms of TB infection include sickness or weakness, low-grade fever or night sweats, a persistent cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, and/or weight loss. Not all infected individuals have obvious symptoms.

Anyone who has come into contact with someone who has TB is strongly advised to immediately contact a health care provider for free, confidential testing. Early detection and treatment of TB is essential to preventing serious medical problems and further spread of the disease. Based on the type of TB infection, treatment generally includes taking anti-tuberculosis medication for several months and continued laboratory testing.

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