Public Health Officials Urge Awareness and Vigilance to Combat One of the World’s Deadliest Diseases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
March 20, 2009 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and public health officials across the state and nation will recognize World TB (Tuberculosis) Day. March 24th commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way toward diagnosing and curing tuberculosis.
“Tuberculosis (TB) is not a disease of the past,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin. “While Connecticut is among the states with the lowest rates of TB, the disease still presents a major public health concern and we must remain vigilant in tracking, treating, and preventing it.”
Worldwide, TB continues to be a major cause of illness and death. In 2006, the number of cases of TB worldwide was estimated to be 9.2 million and approximately 1.7 million deaths were attributed to this disease. Drug resistant TB, caused by inconsistent or partial treatment, is also a growing concern. One third of the world’s population is currently infected with TB (defined as latent tuberculosis infection). Five to ten percent of those infected with TB will become sick with active TB some time during their life.
Connecticut public health officials are joining in a campaign organized by the global Stop TB Partnership, to bring an end to this epidemic. The campaign’s slogan is “I am stopping TB.”
Tuberculosis is transmitted through the air and is both treatable and preventable. It particularly affects persons from countries where TB incidence is high, persons who have HIV infection, and persons who have recently been exposed to someone with TB.
Progress is being made in the fight against TB. In most parts of the world, the number of new cases is falling slowly. In the United States, the disease rates among those born in the U.S. are at their lowest levels ever. Connecticut has, and continues to be, among the states with the lowest rates of TB. In recent years, there have been 90-110 cases of TB reported annually in Connecticut.
The DPH TB Control Program is responsible for TB control efforts in the state and works with healthcare providers and local health departments in a variety of activities including monitoring for new cases, assuring completion of treatment of disease, investigating and treating contacts who have been recently exposed and promoting screening for infection in a variety of settings.
Many partners throughout Connecticut are joining the Department of Public Health recognizing World TB Day and raising awareness about this global epidemic. Our partners include the following organizations:
- Hartford Health Department
- Stamford Health Department
- Stratford Health Department
- Danbury Health Department
- Greenwich Health Department
- Bridgeport Health Department
- Hill Health Center, New Haven
- Bridgeport Hospital
- St. Vincent's Hospital
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.