The Keys to Eliminating US Tuberculosis


In commemoration of World TB Day, a CDC and ALA expert discuss how TB still exists in the country.

Over a century, tuberculosis (TB) has evolved from an overwhelming burden in the United States and Europe, to a managed disease with well-defined therapies and decades of progression borne from advocacy.

But, it is not a completely resolved matter—in fact, the last stretch of eradicating TB in the US may be the most difficult to complete.

In commemoration of World TB Day on March 24, the date reflecting Dr. Robert Koch’s discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 1882, this month’s episode of Lungcast tackled the matter of tuberculosis management, both past and present.

Philip LoBue, MD, Director of Tuberculosis Elimination at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, joined American Lung Association (ALA) chief medical officer Al Rizzo, MD, for a discussion on how TB still persists nationally.

Despite current cases being a fraction of what we they were in the 19th century, thousands are still reported annually.

“But to reach elimination, we actually have to only have about 300 total cases in the United States,” LoBue said. “So there’s still quite a way to go.”

LoBue and Rizzo discussed where to target areas of TB infections, which comes down to key groups of at-risk persons:

  • Those who travel frequently in areas with greater tuberculosis spread
  • Those who have been subjected to “congregate settings”—homeless shelters or correctional facilities

Because latent TB infection is more prevalent in the US, and more common in congregate settings, the 2 experts discussing screening and testing for latent infection.

Lungcast is a monthly podcast series from HCPLive and the ALA. Listen to the full episode here:

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