Tuberculosis Decline Does Not Spread to All Groups FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 20 Apr 1998 10:59:09 -0700 (PDT)


FWD http://www.foxnews.com/health/041098/tuberculosis.sml

TUBERCULOSIS DECLINE DOES NOT SPREAD TO ALL GROUPS

April 10, 1998

By Chelsea J. Carter,  Associated Press

ATLANTA - Stronger control programs that emphasize prompt identification of
people with tuberculosis have helped reduce the number of cases over the
last five years, the government says.

Despite the fifth straight annual decline, there are danger signs,
including a 6 percent increase in cases among immigrants, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

"If we only deal with what's on the surface we will never be free of this
threat," said Dr. Marisa Moore, a CDC medical epidemiologist.

There were 19,855 TB cases reported in the United States in 1997, about a 7
percent decrease from the 21,337 cases in 1996 and a 26 percent drop from
26,673 in 1992.

The number of cases among immigrants increased from 7,266 in 1992 to 7,735
last year - 39 percent
of the national total. TB among immigrants accounted for only 27 percent of
the cases in 1992, Moore
said.

The CDC said a highly drug-resistant form of tuberculosis has been found in
43 states, although those
cases account for only about 2 percent of the nationwide total.

This form of TB, which resists the two drugs normally used to cure it, is
spread typically by people
who fail to finish taking their medicine.

"If you've got a homeless person with TB, ... one of the last things on
their mind is going to be taking their medicine," said Zenda Bowie, a
spokeswoman with the American Lung Association.

The CDC suggested more screening for the people most at risk and said
health clinics should give TB
medication to the 10 million to 15 million people in the United States who
are infected with the bacteria but do not yet have the disease.

Most of the immigrants infected with TB bacteria acquired it outside the
United States, and the disease became active after they moved here, the CDC
said. TB is more common in less industrialized countries where people live
closely together.

The CDC estimated that 10 to 15 percent of all TB cases are among people
infected with HIV.

Worldwide, tuberculosis is a bigger killer than malaria and AIDS combined,
the CDC said. About 2
million to 3 million people worldwide die from TB every year, including
100,000 children, according
to the World Health Organization.

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