Tuberculosis Cases Among Asian Community Increasing

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The number of active tuberculosis cases among Asians and Pacific Islanders in Santa Clara County, Calif., last year was nearly 10 times the TB rate in the general U.S. population, AsianWeek reports. Santa Clara County experienced a 5.7% increase in active TB cases in 2007, and the county has 13.4 active TB cases per 100,000 people, compared with 7.2 cases statewide and 4.4 cases nationally.

In the last two years, the county's Asian-American community has experienced significant increases in the number of TB cases. Julie Higashi, deputy health officer and tuberculosis controller for the Santa Clara County Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Program, said that 68% of active TB cases in Santa Clara County in 2007 occurred in the Asian-American population. The increase might be because of migration, both within and outside the U.S., according to Higashi.

According to AsianWeek, one-third of all tuberculosis cases occur among those born outside the U.S. (Militante, AsianWeek, 11/4). According to the county Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Program:

* 26% of active TB cases are among those born in Vietnam;

* 22% are among those born in the Philippines;

* 14% are among those born in India;


* 10% are among those born in Mexico;

* 10% are among those born in the U.S.;

* 6% are among those born in China; and

* 12% of the county's case load are among those born in other nations (Asian Week graphic, 11/4).

Dan Shin, an infectious disease specialist in Santa Clara County, estimates that 90% of his TB patients are Asian. Shin said, "In the Asian population I see this as a significant issue for both immigrants and people who have been here for decades," adding, "People who have been here were probably infected earlier in their lives and as they get older and their immune system gets weaker, the tuberculosis reactivates."

Both Shin and Higashi stressed the importance of TB screening among the Asian-American community in the county (AsianWeek, 11/4).

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