NH DHHS Recognizes World TB Day

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recognizes World Tuberculosis Day, sponsored by the Stop TB Partnership, which aims to eliminate tuberculosis worldwide. World TB Day is held on March 24th, commemorating the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB.

“Most people probably think of tuberculosis as a disease of the past, but unfortunately that is not the case,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “TB is a worldwide problem that also affects people in the United States. It is estimated that about one-third of the world’s population is infected with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. It is important for people to be aware, however, that this disease is treatable.”

Tuberculosis can attack any part of the body, not just the lungs. TB is most often spread when an infected person coughs and the bacteria become airborne. The theme for 2011 is “On the Move Against TB: Transforming the Fight Towards Elimination,” the aim of which is to eliminate TB from the world through partnerships.

Symptoms of TB can vary from person to person but the most common ones include a bad cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or phlegm. People with more severe illness may also experience weakness or fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, chills, fever, and or night sweats.

There were 10 identified cases of TB in New Hampshire in 2010. In 2009, the United States reported that there were 11,540, a rate of 3.8 cases per 100,000. The 2009 rate showed the greatest single-year decrease ever recorded and was the lowest recorded rate since national TB surveillance began in 1953. TB case counts and rates decreased both among foreign-born and U.S.-born persons. However, despite this great news, cases of this treatable disease continue to be seen in the United States so there is concern that there is not enough progress being made toward elimination.

For more information about TB, visit www.cdc.gov/tb  the NH Department of Health and Human Services website at www.dhhs.nh.gov, the Stop TB Partnership at www.stoptb.org, or Breathe New Hampshire at www.breathenh.org