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U.S. Tuberculosis Rate Sharply Dropped in 2009

Rate is now the lowest since national surveillance began in 1953

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- In 2009, the tuberculosis rate in the United States declined to a record low, according to a report published in the March 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC released data from the National TB Surveillance System showing that 11,540 cases were reported in 2009, resulting in the lowest recorded rate since national tuberculosis surveillance began in 1953: 3.8 per 100,000 persons.

According to the CDC, this represents an 11.4 percent decrease from the 4.2 per 100,000 persons rate reported for 2008, making it the largest single-year decrease ever recorded. Between 2008 and 2009, researchers found that tuberculosis rates declined in Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and foreign-born persons by 15.2, 14.0, 13.6, 9.0 and 10.5 percent, respectively, although foreign-born persons still accounted for a majority of cases (60.2 percent) with known national origin.

"The large decrease in reported cases during 2009 might represent a decrease in tuberculosis disease resulting from changes in population demographics or improved tuberculosis control," the authors write. "However, increased underreporting or under-diagnosis of tuberculosis also is possible. CDC currently is investigating possible causes for the sharp decrease in reported tuberculosis cases. Diagnosing and reporting all tuberculosis cases is essential to ensure treatment of patients with tuberculosis and implementation of other public health interventions that interrupt transmission."

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