(Left to right) IDHW Tuberculosis Program Manager Scott Hutton, Dr. Christine Hahn and Dr. Marcia Witte of the Division of Public Health prepare a display in IDHW’s Central Office to recognize World Tuberculosis Day on Saturday, March 24, 2018.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Tuberculosis Program staff helped promote World TB Day 2018 this week with a display illustrating the lengthy treatment regimen using candy to illustrate the amount of medicine used to treat the disease.
The March 24 annual World TB Day commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB). At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
TB remains the world’s leading infectious killer, being responsible for the deaths of nearly 1.7 million people each year and representing the ninth leading cause of death globally. The day is an occasion to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress towards eliminating TB as a public health burden.
While Idaho has a very low incidence of TB, with only about 10 to 15 cases reported each year in the state, TB continues to require significant public health resources to prevent spread of disease, and a lengthy treatment regimen for the patient, of up to six months or even longer.
Nationwide, progress is being made in ending TB; the preliminary 2017 case count for TB in the U.S. is 9,093, which represents a 1.8 percent decrease in the number of cases reported in 2016. Emphasis is increasing on detecting TB while it is still in the latent (asymptomatic) form and treating it then before the person becomes ill. Treatment of latent TB requires far fewer medications and is usually very well tolerated, bringing reduced risk of future illness and bringing peace of mind to the patient.