Department of Health Services Reports Increase in Tuberculosis Cases
The number of cases of tuberculosis statewide last year increased by 2% from 2002 to 3,230, according to Department of Health Services statistics released Wednesday on World TB Day, the Contra Costa Times reports. However, the state rate of TB remained the same at about 8.9 cases per 100,000 people (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 3/24). California's TB rate is still the nation's highest. Although the rate of TB has decreased by about 50% since peaking in the early 1990s, public health officials are still in the process of controlling outbreaks. Statewide, foreign-born residents -- many of whom are from countries where the bacterial disease is "still rampant and ... control methods are less than adequate" -- account for 75% of new TB cases, the Sacramento Bee reports. While the federal government requires immigrants to be screened for TB before entering the country, officials cannot deny entry to someone with latent TB, which later causes active TB in about 10% to 15% of cases (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 3/24). Some cases also involve people who have visited countries where the disease is prevalent, have had contact with foreign visitors or have contracted it from infected people who did not receive treatment (Contra Costa Times, 3/24). In Sacramento County, which saw a 47% increase in new TB cases, from 104 in 2002 to 153 in 2003, some of the cases were among the homeless, who often sleep in crowded emergency shelters where infections can spread easily (Sacramento Bee, 3/24). TB cases in Contra Costa County increased by 19% last year (Contra Costa Times, 3/24). Santa Barbara, San Joaquin and Monterey counties also reported increases in the number of new TB cases greater than the state average of 2%. Statewide, 28 counties reported increases in new TB cases (Sacramento Bee, 3/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.