New York State Department of Health, In Recognition of World TB Day On March 24, Reminds New Yorkers Early Detection and Coordinated Care Remain Critical to Combating Tuberculosis

Department Continues to Work with Local Health Departments and Health Care Providers to Raise Awareness of Signs and Symptoms

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 23, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes World Tuberculosis Day on March 24, reminding New Yorkers that tuberculosis (TB) remains a leading cause of death worldwide and that multi-faceted efforts are still needed to work towards tuberculosis elimination. This commemoration comes as recent data showed a slight increase in cases in 2022 in New York and across the United States. Tuberculosis cases, however, remained lower than the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.

"World TB Day is marked annually on March 24 to increase public awareness of tuberculosis and the efforts to eliminate the disease," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald. "It is important for New Yorkers and healthcare providers to understand that TB is preventable and curable and that many resources to support its diagnosis and treatment are available."

The Department continues to work closely with local public health departments and health care providers on prevention and reporting tuberculosis cases. In addition to supporting general education campaigns and promoting preventive measures such covering the mouth during coughs, the Department is involved in tuberculosis case detection, management, investigations and evaluations of exposed individuals, as well as laboratory confirmation of disease diagnoses--including rapid detection of drug-resistant strains.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease usually affecting the lungs (pulmonary TB). Other parts of the body can also be affected, for example lymph nodes, kidneys, bones, joints, etc. (extrapulmonary TB).

Early detection and treatment of tuberculosis is essential to preventing serious medical problems and further spread of the disease. Treatment generally includes taking anti-tuberculosis medication for several months and continued laboratory testing.

Tuberculosis can affect anyone, of any socioeconomic status, background and age. A person is at higher risk of developing tuberculosis disease if they: are immunocompromised, have diabetes or HIV, have substance use issues, have been infected with tuberculosis germs within the last 2 years (a tuberculosis blood test is helpful for detecting infection), or if they have not been adequately treated for tuberculosis disease in the past.

New Diagnosis and Treatment Options:

  • This past year, even as the response to Covid-19 and other new infectious diseases continue, new opportunities regarding diagnosis and treatment emerged.
  • The New York State Wadsworth Laboratory now provides a centralized referral point for direct molecular testing for drug resistance, and whole genome sequencing.
  • Greater use of rapid diagnostic testing of sputum specimens in hospitals has improved treatment decisions.
  • Local health departments and associated primary care providers are improving strategies for reaching more people, including new immigrants from areas of the world with high TB incidence, with effective use of screening assessments and tuberculosis IGRA blood tests.
  • The use of shorter, 3–4 month rifamycin-based treatment for tuberculosis has increased as opposed to the older regimens that required 18-24 months.
  • Persons whose disease is sensitive to all medications and who meet certain criteria may occasionally receive four-month regimens.

Tuberculosis Trends:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, there was a substantial decline in reported tuberculosis cases in 2020, raising concerns about delayed and missed tuberculosis diagnoses. CDC investigators released preliminary 2022 data showing that the number of U.S. tuberculosis cases increased 5% in 2022 to 8,300 cases
  • In New York, as in the rest of the United States, tuberculosis incidence increased slightly in 2022, but remained lower than the years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2022 New York State again ranked third in number of tuberculosis cases, and its case rate (3.5/100,000) continues to be one of the highest in the country.
  • In 2022, 714 cases were reported statewide, a 4.4 percent increase from a total of 684 cases in 2021.
  • In New York City, 536 cases were reported for 2022, representing an 1.1 percent increase from 2021.
  • In New York State excluding New York City, 178 cases were reported, a 15.6 percent increase from 2021. Fifty-three percent of cases outside NYC were reported from three counties, Nassau, Westchester and Suffolk.
  • No cases were diagnosed in NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) facilities, compared to 75 or more each year in the early 1990s.
  • There were 13 new multidrug-resistant tuberculosis cases diagnosed in New York State in 2022, an increase from 9 in 2021.
  • In 2022, 87.1% of cases were among persons born outside the United States, with predominant areas of origin including Latin America, East Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.
  • Alaska (13.1), California (4.7) and Hawaii (7.0) all had averages higher than New York and the national average of 2.5 cases/100,000 residents. In 2022, the rate of tuberculosis in New York was 3.5 cases per 100,000 residents.

World Tuberculosis Day marks the discovery of the cause of tuberculosis – tubercle bacillus or Mycobacterium tuberculosis – by German physician and scientist Robert Koch. Tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the United States in the 1940s, before the widespread use of drugs to treat the disease.

More information about tuberculosis (TB) is available here.