Tuberculosis Cases in California Decline
Tuberculosis cases in California declined for the eighth year in a row, dropping 8.6% last year, according to new statistics from the state Department of Health Services. The figures, released to coincide with World TB Day on Saturday, show that a total of 3,296 TB cases were reported in California last year, the lowest number of cases since 1984. State Health Director Dr. Diana Bonta said that the figure represents a 39% decrease since 1992, when the disease peaked at 5,382 cases statewide. Bonta attributed the decline to "renewed investment in the TB control infrastructure," adding that partnership between state and local health departments to fight the disease "continues to pay off." However, California continues to report the highest number of TB cases in the United States. Foreign-born individuals account for nearly 72% of the state's cases, with 32% of these occurring among Mexican immigrants.
To "achieve the goal of TB elimination," the health department has adopted several efforts, including ensuring "prompt diagnosis and treatment" of the disease, expanding the use of "directly observed therapy" for TB patients, strengthening the ties between health departments and correctional facilities and improving TB detection and checkups among immigrants "suspected of having TB at the time they were screened overseas" (Department of Health Services release, 3/22). However, health officials have pushed for more funding to implement and expand these efforts, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. State and federal funding for local tuberculosis programs has remained at about $11 million per year over the past four years, according to Dr. Sarah Royce, chief of the state's TB control branch. Royce said, "The only way to eliminate the disease is not just to treat the active cases, but also to find and treat this reservoir of people who will be our future cases. With flat funding, we're stretched to push forward" (Pimentel, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/23).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.