TB here, everywhere

TB bacteria

Tuberculosis infects one out of every three people worldwide and kills nearly 2 million every year.

Two reports this week illustrate pretty clearly how this global health threat is also especially, persistently local.

The World Health Organization issued its annual report, which found that overall the incidence of TB had declined by 35 percent since 1990.

But 1.7 million still die every year due to lack of treatment and the rise of drug-resistant TB means recent progress remains fragile, said WHO’s Mario Raviglione. The international community must step up its efforts in TB control, he said.

“At this pace, it will take millennia to get rid of TB,” Raviglione said.

In Seattle-King County, public health officials report that locally the number of TB cases remains high — about twice the national average. A new report on TB here said the number of active cases had risen to 130 and an estimate 100,000 residents were infected.

Public health officials said 83 percent of King County’s cases were in foreign-born individuals. Of those treated for TB, 18 were resistant to at least one drug.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.