Monday, March 21, 2011

World TB Day, March 24, 2011, March 21, 2011 News Release - National Institutes of Health (NIH)

World TB Day
March 24, 2011

Statement of Christine F. Sizemore, Ph.D., and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health

The theme of World TB Day 2011 — "On the move against TB: Transforming the fight towards elimination"— reflects renewed momentum to approach the global problem of tuberculosis with greater intensity and seriousness of purpose. This growing interest is broad-based, emerging from leaders in public health to laboratory scientists, from physicians to activists.

Today, about one-third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium that causes TB. Most people have no symptoms because the bacterium is inactive, or latent, but individuals with symptoms of active TB disease can infect others. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, in 2009 more than 14 million people had active TB, leading to 1.7 million deaths, or 4,600 deaths each day. Among people infected with the bacteria, those who have certain other conditions, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes, are more likely to develop active TB and to die from it. Because of this deadly synergy, TB has become the leading cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS.

Although TB control programs have led to a decline in cases worldwide, the emergence and spread of drug-resistant strains of Mtb challenge the way we currently approach TB diagnosis and treatment. Extensively drug-resistant TB, while relatively rare, has been confirmed in 58 countries, including the United States, and likely is present in many more. It has become necessary not just to identify the infection but also to determine the proper therapy for patients at the earliest stages of disease.

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