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Tuberculosis Continues to be World-Wide Problem


The United States is currently at an historic low with reported tuberculosis (TB) cases having dropped 11.8% in the last year, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the largest yearly decline since the government began monitoring the disease in 1953.

While the CDC reports a reduction in the US cases of TB, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports on the continued problem of TB worldwide. In 2008 there were an estimated 9.4 million new cases of tuberculosis and 1.8 million deaths.

Of these 2008 TB cases, WHO reports an estimated 440,000 people had multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and a third of them died. Currently multi-drug resistant TB cases number 4%, but this number is growing. WHO reports nearly half of the cases of multi-drug resistant TB were in China and India, but in some areas of Russia, more than 1 in every 4 cases of tuberculosis result from the hard-to-treat strain.

Another problem noted by WHO’s latest report is the missed or inaccurately diagnosed cases of TB. This delays proper treatment. The report states only 7% of cases of tuberculosis are accurately diagnosed.

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Conventional TB treatment costs about $20 and takes six months. Drug-resistant strains can cost as much as $500 and take as long as two years to treat.

The CDC reports 11,540 TB cases were reported in the the United States in 2009. Only 40% of them in people born in this country. The rate of disease was 11 times as high in foreign-born people as in native-born Americans. The rates in blacks and Latinos were eight times as high as the rate in whites, and the rate in Asians was 26 times as high.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs. But, TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB disease was once the leading cause of death in the United States.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. When the disease is in the lungs, the symptoms may also include coughing, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood.

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World Health Organization
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Latest tuberculosis statistics are a "wake-up call for all governments to act immediately"; BMJ 2010;340:c1614; Peter Moszynski