March 23, 2012
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services recognizes World Tuberculosis Day, sponsored by the Stop TB Partnership, which aims to eliminate tuberculosis worldwide. World TB Day is held on March 24th, commemorating the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB. The goal of World TB Day is to raise awareness of the disease and work toward elimination of TB disease and infection.
There were 10 cases of tuberculosis (TB) identified in New Hampshire in 2010. In the United States there were 11,182 reported cases in the same year, a rate of 3.6 cases per 100,000, which is a decrease from 2009. The 2009 rate showed the greatest single-year decrease ever recorded and 2010 was the lowest recorded rate since national TB surveillance began in 1953. TB case counts and rates decreased both among foreign-born and U.S.-born persons. However, despite this great news, cases of this treatable disease continue to be seen in the United States so there is concern that there is not enough progress being made toward elimination.
“Although tuberculosis is an ancient disease and is treatable unfortunately it is still with us,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “TB is a worldwide problem that also affects people in the United States. It is estimated that about one third of the world’s population is infected with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. The very success of declining case numbers in the U.S. makes us vulnerable to complacency and neglect, but there is more we can do to help stop the spread of this disease and one of the most important steps is education.”
Tuberculosis disease can attack any part of the body, not just the lungs. TB is most often spread when an infected person coughs and the bacteria become airborne. Symptoms of TB can vary from person to person but the most common ones include a bad cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks and coughing up blood or phlegm. People may also experience weakness or fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, chills, fever, and/or night sweats.
For more information about TB, visit www.cdc.gov/tb, the NH Department of Health and Human Services website at www.dhhs.nh.gov, the Stop TB Partnership at www.stoptb.org, or Breathe New Hampshire at www.breathenh.org. For questions about tuberculosis and reporting requirements, call the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496.