Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TB is threat

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 806 * Los Angeles, CA 90012 * (213)
240-8144 *

For Immediate Release:
March 24, 2010

Tuberculosis Not a Thing of the Past, but a Current Threat
Drug-resistant forms of disease an ongoing concern for LA County

LOS ANGELES - As nations around the globe observe World TB Day 2010 on
March 24, 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. Of concern
are drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis, such as MDR-TB
(multidrug-resistant tuberculosis) and XDR-TB (extensively
drug-resistant tuberculosis).

"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 MDR-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 and its stronger forms."

The number of cases of all forms of TB in LA 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 Los Angeles County
appear to be largely contracted abroad, with the vast majority (77.4
percent in 2009) 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.

Because of limited medical resources in many countries, therapies run
short or are inadequate, resulting in drug-resistant disease strains.
Globally, there are an estimated half-million MDR-TB cases.
Additionally, by the end of 2008, 55 countries and territories had
reported at least one case of XDR-TB.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that usually attacks the lungs,
but can also target other parts of the body, including the kidney, spine
and brain. It is spread through the air when a person with active TB
disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes. People nearby who
breathe in the bacteria can then become infected. Some people's bodies
are able to fight the bacteria and keep them from multiplying, and
exhibit no symptoms. This is called a latent TB infection, and may
develop into an active TB infection later. People with active TB do
experience symptoms as the bacteria attack and destroy tissue. These
symptoms include a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, pain in
the chest, and coughing up blood.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

In recognition of World TB Day, the Department of Public Health's TB
Control Program will hold an educational symposium today for the private
medical community. The conference will cover TB epidemiology, the
reporting and discharging of TB patients, the partnership between the
private and public sectors in controlling TB, and updates on TB
diagnosis and treatment.

For further information about TB or World TB Day, please visit any of
the following websites:
Stop TB Partnership
LA County TB Control Program

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving
the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County.
Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services,
Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and
community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000
employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more
about Public Health and the work we do, please visit, visit our YouTube channel at, or follow us on Twitter:

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