Observing World Tuberculosis Day

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World TB Day is March 24th each year. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the bacteria that cause TB. World TB Day is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing deaths of several million people each year mostly in the third world. This year's World TB Day is about celebrating the lives and stories of people affected by TB: women, men and children who have taken TB treatment; nurses; doctors; researchers; community workers--anyone who has contributed towards the global fight against TB.

The theme for World TB Day 2008, "I Am Stopping TB", is more than a slogan. It is the start of a two-year campaign that belongs to people everywhere who are doing their part to Stop TB.

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"World TB Day is an occasion for people around the world to raise awareness about the international health threat presented by Tuberculosis," said Lillian Rivera, RN, MSN, Ph.D., Administrator of the Miami-Dade County Health Department. "TB can be cured, controlled, and, with diligent efforts, it can be eliminated."

The Miami-Dade County Health Department, Tuberculosis Control & Prevention Program reported a decrease in the number of TB cases reported in the year 2007. In 2007,182cases of TB were reported in the county. That figure represents a 10.3%decrease from the previous year (2006), when 203 TB cases were reported in Miami-Dade. The 203cases in 2006 was also a decrease over 2005 when 218 TB cases were reported.

TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. When a person with active TB disease of the lung or throat coughs or sneezes, tiny particles containing M. tuberculosis may be expelled into the air. If another person inhales air that contains these particles, the bacteria may enter the lungs causing infection. However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions can exist: latent TB infection and active TB disease--both of which are treatable and curable. Some of the signs and symptoms of TB include coughing, fever, night sweat, and weight loss.

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