As nations around the globe observed World TB Day this week, the Los Angeles County Health Officer reminds residents that despite the popular misconception that tuberculosis (TB) is a thing of the past; TB impacts millions of lives worldwide every year. Drug-resistant forms of disease are an ongoing concern for Los Angeles County.
Though efforts to manage, treat and eliminate tuberculosis have met with remarkable success in Los Angeles County, we are not immune to more serious forms of this disease, said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. There were 116 local cases of drug-resistant TB between 1998 and 2008, which reminds us that TB is an ongoing threat. Through rapid diagnostic methods, timely reporting of cases to Public Health and appropriate care for all individuals, we can work toward one day eradicating this disease.
The number of cases of all forms of TB in the County has plummeted from a peak of 2,100 in 1992 to 706 cases in 2009. Worldwide, more than 9 million cases are still reported annually, and more than 1.5 million people die of tuberculosis each year. Cases of TB in the County appear to be largely contracted abroad, with the vast majority occurring in foreign-born individuals. Though the prevalence of the disease in the U.S. has declined over the past century, Los Angeles County – as a major hub of international travel, commerce and immigration – cannot expect to be unaffected by an illness that so strongly affects the U.S.’s neighbors.
If not treated properly, TB can be fatal. It is particularly dangerous for medically vulnerable individuals. Patients who are immuno-compromised, such as those who are HIV-infected, and those who have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, are among the most likely to develop significant complications.
For further information about TB, please visit any of the following websites: Stop TB Partnership (http://www.stoptb.org), and the Los Angeles County TB Control Program (http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/tb).