Dr. Mark Horton, Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today observed World Tuberculosis (TB) Day by reminding Californians that TB continues to be a significant health threat in California. CDPH data show the number of TB cases in California was 2,726 in 2007, a slight decrease from 2,779 in 2006.
“We are pleased that TB cases in California are declining, but recognize TB continues to have a significant public health impact on our state,” Horton said. “The medical community in California must stay vigilant in the effort to identify, isolate, treat and cure TB as it appears throughout the state.”
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that travels from one person to another through the air. Men, women and children of all races, ethnicities, and cultures are impacted by TB.
“We have come a long way in our efforts to control TB, but there is much more work to do,” Horton said. “Because of California’s unique economic, cultural and geographic situation, our rates of TB are higher than the rest of the country.”
TB disease symptoms include a cough that lasts longer than two weeks, coughing up blood, weakness or fatigue, weight loss and lack of appetite. Individuals with these symptoms should consult their health care provider. Individuals should also see their health care provider for a TB test if they have diabetes, weakened immune systems, have immigrated in the last five years from countries with high TB rates, or recently breathed air shared by an infectious TB patient.
Most forms of TB are curable with two to four medications taken for six or more months. However, some individuals have drug resistant forms of TB either because treatment was insufficient or they were infected by a resistant strain. When TB becomes multidrug resistant (MDR) or extensively drug resistant (XDR), available treatment is less effective, more expensive, and can have very serious side effects.
Further Information about World TB Day and efforts to stop the spread of the disease in California are available on the CDPH website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/tb/Pages/default.aspx