World TB Day is recognized annually on March 24th to raise awareness about tuberculosis (TB) and to unite worldwide TB-control efforts. This day commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacterium that causes TB. It is a time to recognize achievements in TB prevention and control in the United States and renew our commitment to eliminating this devastating disease.
TB is an important public health issue in the United States; however, data suggest that current strategies will not be sufficient to reach the goal of U.S. TB elimination in this century. A total of 9,287 TB cases were reported in the United States in 2016 according to preliminary data from the CDC National TB Surveillance System. This represents a slight decrease of 259 cases from the 9,546 cases reported in 2015, and is the lowest number of TB cases on record in the United States.
Current TB control strategies prioritize the early diagnosis, isolation, and treatment of those with infectious TB disease. This approach is essential to save lives and stop transmission, but is not sufficient to eliminate TB. We also must ensure persons with latent TB infection (i.e., a person infected with TB bacteria, but does not have active TB disease and is not able to spread the disease) are diagnosed and treated before they can progress to TB disease. This year’s World TB Day theme is Unite to End TB. This theme encourages public health professionals in local and state TB programs to partner with others to expand efforts to diagnose and treat people with latent TB infection.
To eliminate TB in the United States, it will take continued hard work and dedication from those working on the state and local levels. One of the goals of this year’s CDC World TB Day campaign is to highlight this great work, particularly in the area of expanding latent TB infection testing and treatment. The CDC U.S. TB Elimination Champions initiative spotlights organizations and people dedicated to identifying and treating people with latent TB infection in their communities. We encourage you to read and share their stories with your partners and colleagues. Additional CDCresources are available in English and Spanish, including up-to-date information on TB, promotional materials, and other tools you can use as part of your World TB Day events and activities.
Thank you for your work and commitment to eliminate TB in the United States.
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention