Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tuberculosis Rate Drops in Virginia

March 24 is World TB Day

Richmond, Va.-The Virginia Department of Health today announced that the tuberculosis (TB) rate in Virginia continues to decline. Between 2010 and 2011, the rate decreased 17.5 percent. This equates to 47 fewer cases of TB reported in Virginia.

“The steady decline in TB cases in Virginia is welcome news and represents the success of concerted TB control efforts among the state health department, local health departments, and health care providers within the Commonwealth,” said Health Commissioner Karen Remley, MD, MBA, FAAP. “World TB Day offers an opportunity to recognize this progress while striving for even better results.”

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and TB disease. People with TB disease may have symptoms such as coughing (may include coughing up blood) and chest pain. Other symptoms of TB disease include feeling sick or weak, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. Persons with latent TB infection (LTBI) have a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or TB blood test, but they do not feel sick or have symptoms. People with LTBI can’t spread TB infection to others. It is important for people with LTBI to get treated. Without treatment, about five to ten percent of infected persons will develop TB disease during their lives. In December 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) introduced a new treatment option for people who have LTBI that reduces the number of doses of medicine from a 270-dose daily regimen to 12 once-weekly doses given over three months.

TB is a global disease. Increased international travel and immigration influences the movement of TB from place to place making it even more important for health care providers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of TB. “There are still more than 8 million cases per year globally, which underscores the need for continued vigilance by the public and health care community,” said Dr. Remley. “Recognition of TB as a possible diagnosis with appropriate treatment remains a key strategy to controlling TB in the age of rapid global population movement.”

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