Each year on March 24th, we observe World TB Day and revisit the worldwide efforts to control and eliminate tuberculosis (TB) .  The theme of World TB Day 2016, “Unite to End TB,” is showcased in Arizona through ongoing local, state, national, and binational collaboration.

While nationally in 2015 we saw an increase of 157 cases, for a total count of 9,563 TB cases across the U.S. in 2015, this is the first yearly increase in TB cases in 23 years! In Arizona we also saw a small increase in TB cases to 198 cases in 2015 from 193 in 2014. Despite the increase in reported TB cases in Arizona and nationally, compared to the 1992 TB resurgence of over 25,000 TB cases in the U.S., overall we’ve reduced TB by 65%! We feel good about that, but know it’s not enough to reach our goal of TB elimination.

There’s a difference between TB control and TB elimination.  In Arizona and across the US, we have excellent TB control. Arizona’s local TB Programs have become the experts in surveillance and case management of active TB cases, and we have controlled TB. But to eliminate TB, we need to focus on the prevention of future TB cases.  The CDC is placing more focus on TB prevention through diagnosis and treatment of latent (non-contagious)TB infection, which helps to foster support and innovation from programs across the U.S. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now has a drafted recommendation for the screening for latent TB infection in populations that are at increased risk. Here in Arizona, in the last six months, the ADHS TB Program added latent TB infections to our statewide disease surveillance system (MEDSIS) to allow us to more systematically look at statewide data.

With continued TB control efforts, renewed focus on prevention through treatment of latent TB infections, innovation in surveillance, and enhanced partnerships, we’re well on our way toward reaching our goal of TB elimination. ​