The US Still Has Ground to Make on Tuberculosis

March 24, 2021
Kevin Kunzmann

On World TB Day, experts from the ALA and CDC reflect on the recent issues of tuberculosis.

Though the US has made world-changing strides in the management of tuberculosis over the last tuberculosis, World TB Day—the annual anniversary of Dr. Robert Koch’s discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 1882—is not a victory lap.

Rather, it’s an opportunity to reflect on those advances, and consider which ones are still needed to finally eliminate the respiratory infection.

As Philip LoBue, MD, reflected in a recent Lungcast interview, there’s plenty more progress to be made.

“We’ve known what causes TB for well more than 100 years, we have antibiotics going back to the 1950s and ‘60s, and yet it is—depending on how you count cases—still the globally leading infectious disease killer,” LoBue said.

In an interview with the American Lung Association (ALA) chief medical officer Al Rizzo, MD on the monthly respiratory health podcast series, LoBue, 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, reflected on the significance of World TB Day, and shared resources for those who would want to learn about the disease in the US, the other 364 days of the year.

LoBue also discussed the effect of COIVD-19 on tuberculosis screening and diagnosis, factors which already need to be heightened in order to achieve his and other institutions’ goal of tuberculosis elimination.

“I think the underlying message is while the US is a low-instance country, and we definitely see a lot less than we did 100 years ago, it isn’t gone,” he said. If people have the right constellation of symptoms in a group that’s high risk, don’t forget about it.”

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