TB Cases Rise in U.S., Particularly Among Young Children

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May 9, 2023 -- Tuberculosis cases in the United States rose last year, particularly among young children, the Centers for Disease control says in a new report.

Last year 8,300 cases were identified in the country, the CDC says. That’s a 5% increase from the previous year.

Among children under 4, the increase was 26%, up to 202 cases last year from 160 in 2021.

That figure is troubling because cases in that age group are often the result of a recent transmission, not a reactivation of a longstanding latent infection, the CDC said in a press release.

A higher number of cases was reported before the COVID-19 pandemic – 8,896 in 2019, the CDC said. The number fell by one-fifth in 2020, the year the pandemic took hold. The drop in cases reported during the pandemic could’ve been because of missed diagnoses or travel that limited exposure for some people, The Washington Post reported.

TB bacteria go from person to person in the air after someone with it coughs, sneezes, laughs or talks. You can get a primary infection, often without symptoms such as chest pain, fever chills, and coughing up blood. Later, in a latent infection, germs survive but remain under control until the immune system can’t control the infection anymore, The Post reports.

TB can be fatal if not treated. It also can be cured, usually through taking antibiotics.