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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!

  • Eight million new tuberculosis (TB) cases occur each year in the world and 3 million people die of the disease.

  • In the United States, after several decades of decline, TB cases increased 20 percent between 1985 and 1992. Reasons for the increase included:
    • 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
    • Deterioration of the TB public health care infrastructure
  • During the resurgence of TB, outbreaks of multidrug-resistant TB occurred in hospitals and prisons, resulting in high death rates and transmission to health care workers.

  • The 21,337 TB cases reported in 1996 represent the fourth consecutive year of decline, suggesting the successful use of new resources in different areas of the U.S. to better detect and treat persons with active TB and latent 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 many areas.
    • Outbreaks of drug-resistant TB continue in many areas.
    • An estimated 10 to 15 million persons in the U.S. are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Without intervention, about 10 percent of these persons will develop TB disease at some point in life.
    • Directly observed therapy is not available for many persons with active TB who have difficulty completing a full course of TB treatment.
    • An increasing proportion of TB cases in the U.S. are among individuals born in areas with a high prevalence of TB, and international collaboration needs to be strengthened to prevent and control TB in these persons.


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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