Tuberculosis Hits Record Low in U.S.

But TB's Rate of Decline Has Slowed, CDC Says

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on March 20, 2008
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March 20, 2008 -- The CDC today announced that the U.S. tuberculosis rate is the lowest it's been since the CDC started keeping track in 1953.

The new tuberculosis (TB) statistics, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, show that 4.4 per 100,000 people in the U.S. have tuberculosis. That figure is 4.2% lower than in 2006.

But those tuberculosis statistics aren't dropping as much as in the past.

The TB rate dropped 7.3% annually, on average, from 1993-2000. But in the last seven years, the pace of that decline has cooled to an average 3.8% per year.

Some cases of tuberculosis are harder to treat because they are multidrug-resistant or extensively drug-resistant.

In 2007, the tuberculosis rate was nearly 10 times higher for people living in the U.S. who had been born in other countries. TB rates were also higher among Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians than among whites.

The CDC got reports of 116 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) in 2006, the most recent year for which MDR TB statistics are available.

Four cases of extensive drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) were reported to the CDC in 2006, and preliminary data show two XDR TB cases reported in 2007.

To put the U.S. figures in perspective, here's a quick look at the World Health Organization's latest global tuberculosis estimates, issued earlier this week:

  • There were an estimated 9.2 million new cases of TB worldwide in 2006 (139 cases per 100,000 people).
  • An estimated 1.7 million people worldwide died of TB in 2006.
  • An estimated 14.4 million people worldwide had TB in 2006.
  • There were 500,000 cases of MDR TB worldwide in 2006.

The CDC notes that as of 2006, XDR TB had been reported in 45 countries.

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CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 21, 2008; vol 57: pp 281-285.
World Health Organization: "Global Tuberculosis Control 2008: Surveillance, Planning, Financing."

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