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World TB Day

Observed yearly on March 24, World TB Day was established in honor of the late Robert Koch.

Mr. Koch discovered the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB) known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis.      

Each year, more than nine million people around the world become sick with tuberculosis. In 2010, Pennsylvania reported 238 TB cases. This is a less than a one percent increase over the 236 cases reported in 2009. While this disease can be deadly, we want you to know that TB is curable and preventable. On March 24, Pennsylvania will observe World TB Day, providing awareness and education to the state’s residents about this disease.



Get the facts and be healthy!  Did you know?

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is contagious and spreads through the air.

  • TB is the leading killer among people living with HIV, who have weakened immune systems.

  • In 2010, the United States reported more than 11,000 cases of TB. During that same year, Pennsylvania had over 200 cases.
  • If not properly treated, each person with active TB can infect an average of 10 to 15 people a year.

For World TB Day, get more information on what you can do to control and eventually eliminate TB. Visit:  




Tuberculosis fact sheet

TB Cohort Review Process



Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis .  The bacteria can infect any part of the body, but most of the time it settles in the lungs. TB can be spread in the air by someone who has TB in the lungs or throat when he or she is coughing, singing, talking or sneezing.  TB is not spread by touching someone who has TB.

Once someone breathes in the bacteria, they can develop latent tuberculosis infection, a condition where the body stops the bacteria from growing.  Someone with latent TB infection does not have symptoms of the disease and is not able to spread the bacteria to others.  About 10 percent of the people who have latent TB infection will develop the active disease at some time during their life.

When the TB bacteria continue to grow in the body, the infected person will develop the active form of the disease. Symptoms of active TB disease include:


·         Having a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer;

·         Coughing up blood;

·         Experiencing weakness or fatigue;

·         Losing weight;

·         Having no appetite;

·         Having chills and fever; and/or  

·         Sweating at night.

Treatment for TB consists of taking medications to kill the bacteria.  The TB bacteria grow slowly, so treatment is required for at least six months to completely kill the germs.

According to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Thoracic Society, patients should be started on four anti-tuberculosis drugs to prevent the development of drug resistance.  Drug resistance leads to TB that is more difficult to treat.  The standard of care in Pennsylvania is to begin all suspected and confirmed cases of tuberculosis on four-drug therapy. 

Directly Observed Therapy is the standard of care for all active cases of TB treated by providers at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This ensures that all doses of the medications are taken to stop the spread of the disease and prevent the development of drug-resistant TB.

Risk Factors for Tuberculosis

Certain diseases and medications can increase the likelihood that someone will develop active TB disease if they are exposed.  Some of these are:

·         HIV infection

·         AIDS

·         Diabetes

·        Taking medications that suppress the immune system like chemotherapy, corticosteroids and some medications used for rheumatoid arthritis, Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Please check with your healthcare provider if you have more questions about TB and your health.

Tuberculosis Services

The Pennsylvania Department of Health along with county and municipal health departments provide information and assistance to residents with questions or concerns about TB.

The services include:

  • Medication for the treatment and prevention of disease.
  • Outpatient examination and diagnostic services.
  • Hospitalization for persons with tuberculosis who are very ill, require inpatient care and have no source of payment.
  • Laboratory and X-ray services, if there is no source of payment.
  • Individuals can also work with their private healthcare providers.
  • In-field, Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) for patients to complete recommended therapy. Contact investigation and provision of preventive therapy to close contacts of infectious cases.
  • Preventive therapy for other high-risk tuberculosis skin test reactors  

Tuberculosis in Pennsylvania

The number of tuberculosis cases in Pennsylvania decreased from 383 in 2000 to 238 in 2010 which represents a 38 percent decrease.

The case rate in Pennsylvania for 2010 was 1.9 cases per 100,000 persons as compared to a national rate of 3.6.

In 2010, African-Americans accounted for 38 percent of known TB cases. Asian-Americans accounted for 33 percent and Caucasian Americans comprised 28 percent. Hispanic-Americans accounted for 10 percent cases.

The following graph shows TB incidence by race:

Tuberculosis in Pennsylvania has been an increasing concern due to the changes in the growing population who are born in countries outside the U.S.  In 2010, 57.1 percent of the TB cases in Pennsylvania were among individuals born outside of the country, and this trend has been steadily increasing.  The following graphs show TB in Pennsylvania relating to country of origin.


For more information about TB, contact the Bureau of Communicable Diseases at 717-787-6267.