American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
February 2011 Clinical Laboratory News: News Brief

U.S. Sees Drop in Tuberculosis Rates

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of Americans with tuberculosis (TB) has continued to decrease every year since 1993, with annual TB rates falling to all-time lows. However, the percentage of foreign-born individuals infected with the disease has increased annually, and in 2009 accounted for 59% of the national case total.

The report, titled “Reported Tuberculosis in the United States, 2009,” shows that since the disease peaked in 1992, the number of TB cases reported annually in the U.S. has declined approximately 57% by 2009. In 2009, 11,545 new TB cases were reported to the CDC from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing a 10.5% decrease from the previous year.

U.S. Tuberculosis Cases

The report also highlights the rapid rise of TB in racial and ethnic groups. Hispanics exceeded all others with the largest percentage of total cases for the sixth year in a row, and account for 29% of infected individuals. Asians (28%) surpassed non-Hispanic blacks or African-Americans (25%) for the first time, as the second largest racial or ethnic group with TB.

Another concern is the continued prevalence of TB outside the U.S. and how this affects disease rates in the U.S. The number of TB cases reported among foreign-born persons was approximately 11 times higher than among U.S.-born individuals, and every year since 2001, the majority of TB cases in the US have been in individuals born outside the country.

Recently, efforts to detect infected individuals advanced. In December, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test for rapid testing of tuberculosis (TB). WHO referred to the test as a major milestone for global TB diagnosis and care. The organization is now requesting that the fully-automated nucleic acid amplification test be rolled out under defined conditions as part of national plans for TB and multi-drug resistant TB care and control.

The full report is available online.