According to the Centers for Disease Control we are inching closer to eliminating TB in the US. 9,412 cases of TB were reported in the US in 2014. The states with the highest number of TB cases were California (2,145), Texas (1,269), New York (786), and Florida (595). Pennsylvania had 209 TB cases in 2014. Foreign-born persons had a TB rate 13 times higher than those born in the US, and 66% of all TB cases in persons with known national origins were foreign born.

Compared to whites, TB rates were eight times higher for Hispanics, eight times higher for blacks, and twenty-nine times higher for Asians. Having worked in the local state TB clinic for many years, the most common type of TB seen in our area is so-called latent TB infection or LTBI. These are patients with no evidence of active disease but who have a positive skin or blood test indicating previous TB acquisition. These tests confirm the fact that TB has entered the body and the body responded immunologically to prevent active disease, but the risk remains that the patient could develop active disease in their lifetime.

Treatment for LTBI was previously a nine month regimen of drugs. Now there is a new 12-dose (once weekly) plan that seems to offer the same protection as the nine month regimen. Two drugs are used and the patient must have their dosage directly observed by a state TB clinic worker. For more information contact the local state TB clinic.