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Mid adult woman with protection mask and gloves coughing and buying a medicine.

Source: DjelicS / Getty

World Tuberculosis Day is recognized yearly on March 24th and the goal is to educate the public about the impact of the disease.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tuberculosis (TB) cases rose over 9% in 2021, after dropping in 2020.  And although there was an increase in reported cases last year, the number of cases are 13% lower than TB cases prior to the COVID pandemic.  Researchers say these reasons contributed to the decrease:

  • wearing masks and staying six feet apart from others
  • disruptions to healthcare prevented diagnoses
  • COVID and TB have similar symptoms, which may have contributed to missed TB cases

The CDC launched a Think. Test. Treat TB campaign to raise awareness and to assist with prevention.  TB disease is one of the dominant infectious disease killers in the world. COVID-19 was declared the number one cause of death in the US in early 2021.  As with any disease, early detection is key.  According to the CDC, up to 13 million people in the US are living with inactive TB. If diagnosed, it can be treated to prevent active TB.  People at higher risk for TB:

  • are born or frequently travel to Asia, Africa and Latin America
  • currently or used to live in homeless shelters, jails or prisons
  • work in places with high risk for TB transmissions
  • have a weaker immune system
  • recently spent time with someone with active TB disease

An international team of experts still feel confident that TB disease can be eradicated by 2045 with proper funding.