JACKSON, Miss. – Today is World Tuberculosis Day, and data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the number of new tuberculosis (TB) cases in Mississippi increased 13 percent from 2013, which should remind Mississippians this disease is still a very present threat in the state.
In 2014, there were 74 cases of TB reported in Mississippi, bringing the state’s case rate to 2.5 (per 100,000 people), compared with the national average case rate of 3.0.
“With today’s level of air travel and the mobility of world’s population, it clear that any disease is only a plane ride away,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “Despite the progress made in controlling the disease, the CDC estimates that at current levels of progress, it will take at least 100 years to eliminate TB in the U.S.”
According to the latest numbers released from the CDC, approximately every 64 minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with TB disease. About one-third of the world’s population is currently infected, and a new infection occurs every second.
Mississippi has benefited from the use of the latest treatment and diagnostic tools in the fight against TB, but Dobbs said that constant diligence is required to identify and treat new cases promptly to reduce the spread of the disease.
“TB rates have remained relatively stable in Mississippi over the past several years, but this disease remains a significant public health problem in our state. We continue to be vigilant in our efforts to reduce the incidence of this disease in Mississippi,” said Dr. Dobbs.
“Expert physicians and nurses at MSDH work tirelessly to treat and prevent TB every day,” he said. “Using comprehensive and aggressive surveillance, the Department of Health can respond quickly and effectively when TB outbreaks do occur.”
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, is expelled into the air when those with TB disease cough or sneeze. Others may become infected when they breathe the bacteria into their lungs. In fact, an estimated 90,000 Mississippians currently have TB infection, a form of TB that is not contagious but, if left untreated, is capable of becoming active and causing disease.
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