March 21, 2011March 23, 2011 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – Health officials in Connecticut and throughout the world are recognizing March 24th as World TB Day to increase awareness and vigilance about one of the world’s deadliest diseases.
“World Tuberculosis Day recognizes the successes public health has made in reducing the incidence of TB and reminds us of the challenges we face to eliminate this preventable disease,” stated Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen.
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 bacteria. At the time of Koch’s announcement, 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.
Worldwide, TB continues to be a major cause of disease and death. In 2009, there was an estimated 9.4 million cases and 1.7 million deaths attributed to TB. This translates to 4,700 deaths each day. 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.
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 level ever. Connecticut has, and continues to be, among the states with the lowest rates of TB. In recent years, there have been 90-100 cases of TB disease 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 that have been recently exposed and promoting screening for infection in a variety of settings.
Tuberculosis, a deadly disease, is transmitted through the air and is, fortunately, 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 disease.
Many partners throughout Connecticut are joining the Department of Public Health in recognizing World TB Day and raising awareness about this global epidemic. Our partners include the following organizations and committees:
· Hartford Health Department
· Stamford Health Department
· Stratford Health Department
· Danbury Health Department
· Greenwich Health Department
· Bridgeport Health Department
· Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, New Haven
· Connecticut Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Tuberculosis
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.