Department of Health acting Secretary Dr. Eli Avila today stressed the need to raise public awareness of tuberculosis, or TB, and the importance of efforts to control—and eventually eliminate—the infectious airborne disease.
"Pennsylvania has seen a decline in the number of reported TB cases in the past decade due to the diligent efforts of the public health community to identify, investigate and treat all cases of the disease," Dr. Avila said. "However, we are seeing more TB cases that are resistant to medication, which makes the disease more difficult and more costly to treat. That is why it is essential to raise public awareness of this disease and continue our fight against its spread."
Tuberculosis is an airborne disease caused by bacteria. It usually affects the lungs but it may seriously damage other parts of the body. Individuals can become infected with TB when a person with pulmonary TB disease coughs, sneezes, sings or talks and sends TB bacteria into the air. Signs and symptoms of TB disease include cough, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss and fatigue.
Pennsylvania's TB case rate has seen a decline from 349 cases in 2001 to 238 cases in 2010—a more than 47-percent reduction. However, department statistics indicate that in 2010, 7.6 percent of TB cases tested were resistant to at least one traditional tuberculosis treatment medication.
Observed annually on March 24, World TB Day recognizes the global fight against the spread of tuberculosis and encourages communities to mobilize and boost awareness of the importance of TB control.
Pennsylvania Department of Health