TB cases hit record low in TN, despite continual threats globally

Friday, April 14, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There were 9,287 tuberculosis cases in the U.S. and 103 in Tennessee in 2016, the lowest numbers ever recorded. Despite these encouraging figures, the Tennessee Department of Health reminds all Tennesseans TB is still here, but is treatable, curable and preventable.

‘’We are very pleased to see the number of TB cases decline in our state and around the nation, but this is a very common and very deadly disease worldwide and we know more must be done to constrain it,’’ said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “It’s important to know anyone can get TB. In fact, around one-third of the people on Earth are infected, leading to about 1.8 million deaths worldwide. That’s why TDH strongly encourages those with TB symptoms get tested.’’

TB is caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and can be spread through the air in microscopic droplets when a person with active TB disease of the lungs coughs or sneezes. A person who shares a closed airspace with someone with active TB disease may inhale some of

those germs and could become infected by them.

‘’TB continues to be a global epidemic and cause of death and disability around the world,” said Jon Warkentin, MD, MPH, medical director of the Tennessee Tuberculosis Elimination Program. “Fortunately, however, since the peak of nearly 6,000 TB cases in Tennessee in 1948 there has been a steady decrease to only 103 cases in 2016. Thanks to our many partners, prevention and treatment efforts, TB is now a relatively rare disease in our state.’’

TDH and the Tennessee Department of Correction were recently named 2017 TB Elimination Champions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a very successful collaboration to improve screening for TB infection and other diseases at Tennessee’s two correctional intake centers. Learn about this important effort at https://go.usa.gov/xXkap.

TDH recommends those at high risk for TB have a skin or blood test to find out if they are infected with TB. Persons at high risk for TB include those born in countries with high rates of TB; individuals infected with HIV or living with AIDS; homeless individuals; people who have spent time in jail or prison; intravenous drug users and those who have had close interactions with someone with infectious TB disease.