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CDC: Tuberculosis in the United States Hits Record Low

Improved screening of immigrants contributing to decline

THURSDAY, March 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Rates of tuberculosis in the United States are falling, with cases at a historic low, health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday, noting that improved screening of immigrants has helped reduce incidence.

According to preliminary data from the CDC's National TB Surveillance, fewer than 9,600 cases were reported in the United States in 2013, representing a decline of 4.2 percent from 2012 -- from 3.2 cases per 100,000 people to 3.0 per 100,000. Cases of drug-resistant TB remain a concern, and the rate of TB is still 13 times higher for foreign-born residents than for people born in the country, according to figures published in the March 21 edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Still, a program that more intensively screens anyone planning to immigrate is having success. Under the tighter screening, twice as many TB cases are diagnosed and treated among immigrants and refugees before their U.S. arrival than with the previous screening program.

According to the report, four states -- California, Florida, New York, and Texas -- reported more than half of all TB cases in 2013. Also, blacks and Hispanics have a rate of TB seven times higher than whites. For Asians, the rate is 26 times higher than whites. Eighty-six cases of drug-resistant TB were reported in the United States in 2012, the most recent year for which complete data is available. In 2013, two cases of extensively drug-resistant TB were reported nationally, the same as in 2012.

Although the United States is seeing progress against TB, the disease is epidemic elsewhere. Worldwide, 8.6 million new cases and almost one million deaths were reported in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.

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