TB Declines in California
Statewide, tuberculosis cases declined by 3% in 2005 to 2,900 cases -- the lowest number in state history, according to health officials, the Contra Costa Times reports. However, Latinos, blacks and Asians have infection rates that are five to 16 times higher than the rates for whites, according to the Times.
The number of TB cases in Alameda County increased 6% in 2005 to 152 cases. Eighty-five percent of those cases involved people born in foreign countries. Alameda County's TB program faces a $120,000 cut next year.
In Contra Costa County, TB infections declined by 9%, but the number of cases that were resistant to the two main treatments for the disease doubled to four. All of the drug-resistant cases involved people from the Philippines, China or Tibet, according to Charles Crane, medical director of the Contra Costa County TB program.
County health workers often must "deal with language and cultural barriers as they closely monitor patients [with drug-resistant TB] because the replacement drugs can have serious side effects," according to the Times. In addition, immigrants from developing counties often do not receive the quality of screening or treatment for the disease found in the U.S., the Times reports (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 3/28).