Tuberculosis Still Threatens Public Health Worldwide

CDC Tuberculosis Poster Session

7-9 p.m.


Grand Ballroom 11-13, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

For decades, health officials have set their sites on eradicating tuberculosis. Although the number of active TB cases has decreased in the United States and other developed countries, it remains widespread around the world. In fact, TB has regained the inglorious distinction of being the infectious disease that kills more people than any other, according to Kevin Fennelly, MD, MPH, chair of the ATS Assembly on Pulmonary Infections and TB.

Neha Shah, MD, MPH, and her colleagues in the Division of TB Elimination at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are presenting a two-hour public health poster forum that will focus on innovative techniques that are helping to meet the challenges of TB control, prevention, and elimination in the United States.

Neha Shah,  MD, MPH

Neha Shah,

“This year, there is a large focus on latent TB infection or dormant infection. If we are able to catch TB early, we can prevent people from getting sick, and from transmitting it to their family and community,” says Dr. Shah. “These posters focus on using new blood tests, using novel ways, such as electronic video formats to provide medication oversight, and understanding how much work we have to do in order to get to TB elimination.”

There are many misconceptions about TB that have given the disease a foothold worldwide. One of the biggest misunderstandings the public has about TB is that the BCG vaccination protects you from TB as an adult. It doesn’t, says Dr. Shah.

Kevin Fennelly, MD, MPH

Kevin Fennelly, MD, MPH

“The biggest misunderstanding for providers is that only TB clinics can provide prevention therapy,” she says. “All providers need to be aware of who is at risk for TB and then test and treat individuals to prevent infectious TB and protect transmission to family and friends.”

Many Americans also mistakenly believe that TB is no longer a public health problem, says Dr. Fennelly.   “Even many of our research colleagues tend to think that TB is ‘over’ for patients if there is either a microbiological cure or death,” he says. “TB is actually a major contributor to pulmonary disability around the world.”