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Tuberculosis Rate Down, But Still Too High to Reach Goal

Prevalence, particularly in some groups, suggests that United States won't meet 2010 reduction goal

FRIDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Although incidence rates of tuberculosis have declined in the United States in recent years, the estimated prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) -- particularly in certain groups -- suggests that the nation won't reach its reduction goal set for 2010, according to research published in the Feb. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Diane E. Bennett, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 7,386 people who received tuberculin skin testing in 1999 to 2000 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers estimate that LTBI prevalence in the United States is 4.2 percent. U.S.-born, non-Hispanic whites have an LTBI prevalence of 1.1 percent, near the 1 percent needed to achieve tuberculosis elimination. However, prevalence in the foreign-born population is 18.7 percent, with prevalence among non-Hispanic blacks at 7 percent, among Mexican Americans it is 9.4 percent, and among people in poverty it is 6.1 percent.

"This analysis reinforces the Institute of Medicine's conclusion that, in addition to continuing basic tuberculosis control through treatment for LTBI and tuberculosis, tuberculosis elimination strategies should include targeted evaluation and appropriate treatment of individuals in high-prevalence groups. In addition to greater efforts to screen and appropriately treat immigrants, support for global tuberculosis prevention and control efforts in high-burden countries is…not only a matter of humanitarian concern, but a matter of enlightened self-interest," the authors write.

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