The number of tuberculosis cases reported in California last year dropped by its biggest margin in nearly a decade, Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), announced today.
“We have come a long way in our struggle to eliminate TB and we can be proud of our aggressive efforts to control the disease," Horton said. "We need to continue to be vigilant so that we don't see a resurgence in our state."
In 2009, 2,472 cases of active TB were reported, a decrease of 8.6 percent from 2,695 cases in 2008. The decline was the largest since 2000 and pushed the TB rate to 6.4 cases per 100,000 residents — the lowest on record in California.
Rates of TB among all major racial and ethnic groups decreased, however significant disparities continue. Among Native Americans, the rate was 1.0 cases per 100,000 residents; White, 1.3; Hispanic, 6.5; Black, 7.8; Asian/Pacific Islander, 22.0.
Because California is a popular destination for travelers from around the globe and because we have a large immigrant population, the state continues to feel the impact of the global TB epidemic. As in previous years, approximately three-fourths of the TB cases reported in California were among persons born in other countries. Last year, however, the number of TB cases among foreign-born persons who had been in the United States less than a year dropped substantially — from 279 cases in 2008 to 176 cases in 2009. The decline, Horton said, is most likely due to reduced overall immigration and improved screening of immigrants for TB before arrival.
CDPH has been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop, implement and evaluate systems to improve pre-immigration TB screening and treatment prior to arrival in California. In addition, CDPH supports the work of local health departments to ensure that recent immigrants at high risk for TB receive appropriate medical care after arrival in California.
The World Health Organization has declared March 24, 2010, “World TB Day.”