March 22, 2013
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 9 cases of tuberculosis (TB) identified in New Hampshire in 2012, the most recent year data are available. A total of 10,528 TB cases (which translates to a rate of 3.4 TB cases per 100,000 persons) were reported in the United States in 2011. Both the number of TB cases reported and the case rate decreased; compared with 2010, these numbers represent a 5.8% and 6.4% decline, respectively. In 2011, the percentage of TB cases that were diagnosed in foreign-born persons increased to 62% of the national case total. Despite the overall decline in numbers, cases of this treatable disease continue to be diagnosed in the United States and public health officials are concerned that there is not enough progress being made toward elimination.
“Although tuberculosis is sometimes a difficult disease to diagnose and can cause very serious symptoms,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS, “it is treatable and relatively difficult to catch. About one-third of the world’s population is infected with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. The fact that case numbers are declining 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.”
TB is most often spread when an infected person coughs and the bacteria become airborne. Symptoms of TB can vary but the most common ones include a 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. Tuberculosis usually affects the lungs but can also attack any part of the body.
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.