JACKSON, Miss. – Today is World Tuberculosis Day, and while Mississippi’s tuberculosis cases are on the decline, the state still ranks 13th highest for case rates nationwide, according to the latest numbers released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2010, 116 new cases of the disease were reported in Mississippi, bringing the state’s case rate to 3.9 (per 100,000 people), compared with the national average case rate of 3.6.
The 2010 Mississippi rate is actually down slightly from 2009 (121 cases with a rate of 4.1), but there is still much work to be done, according to Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
“In the past few years, we have increased screening efforts in high risk populations such as the homeless, and our field staff works tirelessly to monitor patients through directly observed therapy and follow-up with contacts,” said Dr. Byers.
“Our TB rates have remained relatively stable in Mississippi over the past five years, but this disease remains a significant public health problem in our state. We remain vigilant in our efforts to reduce the prevalence of this disease in Mississippi,” said Dr. Byers.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, is expelled into the air when those infected cough or sneeze. Others are infected when they breathe the bacteria into their lungs. Not all people infected with TB become contagious or even ill. In fact, an estimated 90,000 Mississippians are currently infected with latent TB, a form of the disease in which the germ lies dormant in the body but is capable of becoming active and causing infection.