Experts Urge More Federal Funding for TB Research
Experts at a three-day tuberculosis conference in Atlanta on Thursday recommended a large increase in federal funds for research on the disease and expanded authority for health officials to restrict travel by individuals infected with communicable diseases, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, experts at the conference were "perversely grateful" that the case of Andrew Speaker -- a man with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis who traveled to Europe by airplane despite CDC recommendations to cancel the trip and re-entered the U.S. at the Canadian border despite an advisory that called for his detainment by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers -- had "revived the public's focus on the disease" and the emergence of drug-resistant strains, 48 reported cases of which have occurred in the U.S. since 1993.
The experts recommended an increase in federal funds for domestic TB programs to $300 million annually from $137 million annually. In addition, they recommended that the U.S. increase funds provided to global TB programs to $450 million annually from $90 million annually.
Kenneth Castro, director of the division of TB elimination at CDC, said, "I think we've been too mealy-mouthed in our communication of risk to patients."
CDC officials at the conference said that they had met with Department of Homeland Security officials to discuss revisions to current law to allow health officials to restrict travel by individuals infected with communicable diseases (Sack, New York Times, 6/15).