Tuberculosis is a global epidemic, but it is preventable and curable. In 2016, 10.4 million people were sickened with tuberculosis and there were 1.7 million TB-related deaths throughout the world. In the United States, there were 9, 272 cases of TB in 2016. According to the CDC, TB was reported in all 50 states with 174 of those cases in Pennsylvania.
March 24 is annual World TB day. It marks the date in 1882 that Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of “Mycobacterium tuberculosis”, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB). In Dr. Koch’s time, TB killed 1 out of every 7 people in the United States and Europe. Today, one-fourth of the world’s population is still infected with TB. 100 years later, March 24 was designated as a day to educate the public about the impact that TB is still having around the world.
Even though the number of people with active TB disease is declining in the United States, there are still millions that have latent TB infection (LTBI). Someone with latent tuberculosis lives with tuberculosis bacteria in their body, but is not sick and cannot transmit the disease. Sometimes, the bacteria can become active. When this happens, a person will change from having latent disease to being sick with active disease. People with active TB are contagious and can spread the infection. There are certain people who are at increased risk of converting from LTBI to active TB, and for this reason, should be treated preventatively. Treatment for LTBI has been challenging, and many people do not comply with the often lengthy regimens.
For over 100 years, Breathe Pennsylvania has been involved in the fight against tuberculosis in western Pennsylvania. In honor of World TB day, we will be offering our 5th Annual Tuberculosis Education Conference on March 22. This event is an opportunity for health care professionals involved with tuberculosis to learn from experts in the field.
For more information about this year’s conference, visit our event page: http://breathepa.org/programs/tuberculosis-educationoutreach/tuberculosis-education-conference