World TB Day Promotes Awareness of World's Most Deadly Infectious Disease


World Tuberculosis Day is commemorated annually on March 24 to heighten awareness of the world’s most deadly infectious disease.

World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is commemorated annually on March 24th to raise awareness of the world’s most deadly infectious disease. In 2018, 10 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the theme for this year’s TB Day is “It’s Time”.

“…the spotlight this year is on urgently accelerating the TB response to save lives and end suffering, building on high level commitments by Heads of State at the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on TB,” according to the WHO statement.

March 24th is the anniversary of the day in 1882 that Robert Koch, MD, announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB. It had previously been believed by many that TB was inherited rather than being an infectious disease.

The “It’s Time” theme highlights that now is the time to scale up access to prevention and treatment, to ensure sustainable resources are dedicated to TB research, and to ramp up an equitable global strategy to control an infectious disease that is responsible for immense social burdens.

The WHO listed TB among its urgent infectious disease challenges to address this decade, noting that TB, HIV, viral hepatitis, and malaria will lead to an estimated 4 million deaths in 2020.

“CDC [US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] joins the global community to recognize World Tuberculosis (TB) Day—an important moment to unite in renewed commitment to ending TB, an airborne disease that knows no borders,” according to the CDC statement.

An article in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report presented a range of information on TB, from both the US and global health figures.

“In 2019, a provisional total of 8,920 TB cases were reported in the United States (incidence = 2.7 cases per 100,000 persons), a 1.1% decrease from the 9021 cases reported during 2018 and the lowest number of U.S. cases recorded since reporting began in 1953,” the authors wrote.

The report also detailed that the 10 million cases and 1.5 million deaths from TB worldwide in 2018 represent 2% and 5% declines from 2017, respectively.

In addition, about 862,000 reported TB infections occurred in people living with HIV. In 2018, 1.8 million people living with HIV began TB preventative treatment, which is an 88% increase from 2017.

Past research has shown that in TB-endemic areas, community-wide screening regardless of symptoms may be helpful.

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