US TB cases hit highest level in a decade in 2023 | Trending Viral hub

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NEW YORK — The number of tuberculosis cases in the United States in 2023 was the highest in a decade, according to a new government report.

Forty states reported an increase in tuberculosis and rates increased among all age groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. More than 9,600 cases were reported, a 16% increase from 2022 and the highest since 2013.

Cases decreased dramatically at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been increasing since then.

Most cases of tuberculosis in the United States are diagnosed in people born in other countries. Experts say the 2023 figure is partly a combination of a rise in tuberculosis cases internationally: The World Health Organization said tuberculosis was second only to COVID-19 in deadly infectious diseases worldwide. world in 2022. And there are also increases in post-pandemic migration and international exchanges. travel.

But other factors also come into play, including other diseases that weaken the immune system and allow latent tuberculosis infections to emerge.

CDC officials expected TB numbers to rise, but the 2023 count “was a little higher than expected,” said Dr. Philip LoBue, director of the agency’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination.

Despite the jump, the number and rate of new tuberculosis cases each year remain lower than in the past, and the United States has a lower rate of new tuberculosis cases than most countries.

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that usually attack the lungs and is transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If not treated properly, it can be fatal. At the end of the 19th century, tuberculosis killed one in seven people living in the United States and Europe. But the development of antibiotics and public health efforts managed to treat infections and track those they infected, leading to cases declining for decades.

The new CDC statistics do not count how many people were newly infected in 2023, but rather how many people developed a cough or other symptoms and were diagnosed.

An estimated 85% of people counted in 2023 were infected at least one or two years earlier and had what is called latent tuberculosis, when the bacteria enters the body and hibernates in the lungs or other parts of the body. Experts estimate that up to 13 million Americans have latent tuberculosis and are not contagious.

When the immune system is weakened (from certain medications or other diseases such as diabetes and HIV), tuberculosis wakes up, so to speak. Nicole Skaggs said she was infected in 2020, but that she did not develop symptoms until 2022, after becoming ill with COVID-19.

“Anything that can destroy or weaken your immune system can put you at risk,” said Skaggs, 41, a property manager in Bothell, Washington.

CDC officials called the idea that COVID-19 played a role in the rise in tuberculosis reactivation “an important issue.” Scientists are still learning what causes reactivation of latent tuberculosis and “I would consider it an unknown at this point,” LoBue said.

“It’s too early to say” what will happen to tuberculosis trends in the coming years, he also said.

there is tuberculosis vaccines are being developed, and public health workers who were focused on COVID are now back to trying new approaches to prevent tuberculosis. New York City, where cases rose 28% last year, is hiring TB case managers and community health workers and is increasingly using video monitoring of patients taking medications to keep rates up. of treatment, said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, city health commissioner.

On the other hand, federal anti-TB funding for state and local health department efforts has been flat, and one of the key antibiotics used against TB has been in short supply in recent years. Furthermore, drug-resistant tuberculosis infections have appeared in a fraction of cases.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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