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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


TB Facts for Health Care Workers

Tuberculosis Yes! It's Still a Problem!

  • Worldwide, nine million new tuberculosis (TB) cases occur each year and there are 2 million TB-related deaths.
  • In the United States, after several decades of decline, TB cases increased 20 percent between 1985 and 1992. Reasons for the increase included
    • Deterioration of the TB public health care infrastructure
    • The HIV epidemic
    • Immigration of persons from areas with a high prevalence of TB
    • Transmission of TB in high-risk environments, such as correctional facilities, homeless shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes
  • During the resurgence of TB, outbreaks of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) occurred in hospitals and prisons, resulting in high death rates and transmission to health care workers.
  • The 14,517 TB cases reported in 2004 represent the eleventh consecutive year of decline in the United States. This decline suggests the successful use of new resources in different areas of the country to better detect and treat persons with TB disease and latent TB infection.

    While the decrease in TB cases is encouraging, there are several areas of concern which will require expanded efforts:
    • TB cases continue to increase in some areas of the United States.
    • During 1993 to 2004, the District of Columbia and 47 states reported diagnosing and caring for persons with MDR TB.
    • An estimated 9 to 14 million persons in the United States are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.* Without intervention, about 10 percent of these persons will develop TB disease at some point in their lives.
    • Directly observed therapy (DOT) is not available for many persons with TB disease who have difficulty completing a full course of TB treatment.
    • In 2004, the majority (82%) of all reported TB cases in the United States occurred in racial and ethnic minorities.
    • An increasing proportion of TB cases in the United States are among individuals born outside this country in areas with a high prevalence of TB. International collaboration needs to be strengthened to prevent and control TB in these persons.
    • Despite overall declines in TB cases in the United States, inequities persist in racial, ethnic, and foreign-born groups.

* 1999 - 2000 CDC National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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