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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Core Curriculum on Tuberculosis, 2000

Chapter 3
Epidemiology of TB in the United States


After the introduction of anti-TB medication in the late 1940s, there was hope that TB would soon be eradicated. There was a steady decline in the incidence of TB in the United States from 1953 through 1984. However, from 1985 through 1992, the number of reported TB cases increased by 20%. Since 1993, the number of TB cases reported has again declined, and the nation has recovered from the resurgence of TB that occurred in the mid-1980s. However, the nation cannot let its guard down when the goal is TB control and prevention and eventual elimination of TB as a public health threat. Although the overall number of TB cases is decreasing, TB cases continue to be reported in every state. During 1998, a total of 18,361 new cases (rate of 6.8 per 100,000 population) of TB were reported to CDC from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Surveillance data have shown that TB in the United States affects racial/ethnic minorities disproportionately. Resistance to anti-TB drugs among reported TB cases in the United States remains a serious public health concern. An estimated 10 to 15 million persons in this country are infected with M. tuberculosis. TB disease may develop in these persons at some time in the future. Efforts to control TB through the prompt identification and treatment of persons with infectious TB can reduce the number of newly infected persons who are added to this population. Some groups are at higher risk for TB than others. These groups can be divided into two categories: persons at higher risk for exposure to or infection with M. tuberculosis, and persons at higher risk of developing TB disease once infected with M. tuberculosis.


After working through this chapter, you will be able to

  • Describe how the number of TB cases reported in the United States has changed recently;
  • List the racial and ethnic groups that are disproportionately affected by TB.


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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