County Issues Report Warning of Need for Vigilance in Recognition of 'Stop TB Day
March 20, 2007
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has issued a new report that states that planned cuts to federal funding for tuberculosis programs could lead to a resurgence in TB like that which followed similar funding cuts in the 1970s. The Tuberculosis Epidemiology Report has been issued in conjunction with the recognition of March 24 as World Stop TB Day. It details how two newer strains of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) are much more difficult to treat and could spread if adequate prevention and control programs are not maintained.
"Our report describes how, despite a current decline in TB cases in Contra Costa, the need to track MDR (multidrug-resistant) and XDR (extensively drug-resistant) TB makes this disease actually a more serious health issue than in past years," said Dr. Charles Crane, Medical Director of the CCHS Tuberculosis Program. "XDR TB, which is nearly untreatable, has already gained a foothold in California," says the report. "We are now facing the prospect of a return to the pre-antibiotic era."
The number of new TB cases in Contra Costa declined from 58 in 2005 to 50 in '06, continuing a nearly uninterrupted trend of the past 10 years. The number of foreign-born residents contracting the disease also showed encouraging improvement, declining from 40 in '04 to 29 last year.
The report also, however, cites a recent announcement by Dr. Ken Castro, Director of the Division of TB Elimination at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that the federal funding for local TB programs will be cut 25% over the next five years.
To view the new TB report online, visit cchealth.org and click on Health Topics and TB.
"Tuberculosis kills close to 2 million people a year," noted Francie Wise, chief of CCHS Communicable Disease Programs. "The reason we have made the progress against this disease that we have recently in Contra Costa is because of an effective TB program infrastructure. If state and federal funding for this program is cut, we face a genuine threat in this county from MDR and XDR TB."
Three cases of drug resistant TB were diagnosed in Contra Costa in 2006, a slight improvement from the four new cases in 2005. Crane said these cases require the most medical resources and expensive medication to treat. Crane said it is essential that new immigrants to the United States get a skin test for TB to control outbreaks and diagnose the disease early enough for effective treatment. "Every year, we have fatalities from this disease and they are always related to late diagnosis, so the need for new arrivals to have skin tests remains critical for early diagnosis and treatment," said Crane. For more information about TB in Contra Costa, contact Dr. Crane or 925-313-6740.
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- Dr. Charles Crane