World TB Day, March 24

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

24 March, 2014

LAS VEGAS – March 24 is World TB Day, the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced he identified M. tuberculosis, the bacteria responsible for one of the world’s most dreaded diseases. Today, tuberculosis affects approximately two billion people worldwide. In 2013, there were 75 cases in Clark County and a total of 92 reported throughout the state.

An ancient illness and once the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, TB is curable but not eradicated. The Southern Nevada Health District’s active contact investigation programs and its community partnerships have been instrumental in avoiding a sudden surge in newly reported cases, allowing the rate of active cases to remain steady over time. Nevada consistently ranks among the top 20 states with the highest rates of TB. Nevada reports an average of 100 active cases of TB disease each year.

Nationwide, there were 9,945 cases of TB in 2012. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2011 TB rate in the United States was 3.2 cases per 100,000 people, a decrease of 6.1 percent compared to 2011. Although TB can affect anyone, the majority of cases nationwide and in Nevada are among the foreign born in whose home countries latent TB infection rates are high. In Clark County, 65 percent of patients were foreign born. However, as many as one in 10 people, no matter their country of birth, will test positive for exposure to the bacterium, although they may not be sick or infectious.

Some TB stats include:

  • Approximately one in three people worldwide have latent TB infection.
  • In 2011, nearly 9 million people became sick with TB disease.
  • In 2011, there were approximately 1.4 million TB-related deaths worldwide.
  • TB is a leading cause of death for people with HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has personal stories from real TB patients on its website: http://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/basics/personalstories.htm. These patients come from various communities throughout the United States.

The Southern Nevada Health District works with federal health officials, state health division representatives, local agencies, and national advocacy groups to identify active cases for treatment as well as their close contacts for preventive care, and provide education and expert consultation on infection control practices, screening procedures, and case reporting.

World TB Day is an opportunity to educate the community about an important component of public health and encourage health care providers to consider tuberculosis when they treat symptomatic patients. This critical diagnosis helps to get patients into treatment quickly and limit the spread to the patient’s contacts.

At any given time, there are approximately 80 people undergoing treatment for active TB in Clark County under the supervision of the health district. Adherence to treatment is key to eliminating the risk of spreading TB to a patient’s close contacts and the community as a whole. In recent years, drug resistant strains of TB have developed, limiting treatment options with several cases of drug resistant cases identified locally. “Directly observed” therapy protocols require the TB Treatment and Control Clinic to utilize a number of resources to monitor patient compliance with therapy. Health district clinicians coordinate care for patients, many of whom voluntarily remain in quarantine until adherence to an effective treatment plan renders them no longer infectious. Treatment can take six to 24 months and requires supervision, which is burdensome on the patient and health care systems.

People who test positive for TB and who are asymptomatic have ‘latent’ TB infection. They are not sick and are incapable of spreading the disease. It means that they have been exposed to the TB bacterium at some point in their lives. People with latent TB are offered treatment to prevent them from developing an active case of TB which could spread disease.

 

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Access information about the Southern Nevada Health District on its website: www.SNHD.info. Follow the Health District on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict, YouTube: www.youtube.com/SNHealthDistrict, Twitter: www.twitter.com/SNHDinfo, and Instagram: www.instagram.com/southernnevadahealthdistrict/. The Health District is available in Spanish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TuSNHD.  Additional information and data can be accessed through the Healthy Southern Nevada website: www.HealthySouthernNevada.org.