According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 9,421 TB cases were reported in the United States in 2014. Both the number of TB cases reported and the case rate decreased; representing a 1.5% and 2.2% decline, respectively, compared to 2013*. This is the smallest decline in more than a decade.
*Ratio calculation is based on unrounded data values.
There were 555 deaths from TB in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. This is an 8% increase from the 510 TB deaths in 2012. Overall, the number of TB deaths reported annually has decreased by 67% since 1992. The percentage of MDR -TB cases decreased slightly from 1.4% (96 cases) in 2013 to 1.3% (91 cases) in 2014.
While we have seen dramatic reductions in TB cases in the U.S., we cannot become complacent. The current outbreak of TB in rural Alabama demonstrates that no country is immune to TB. Marion, Alabama is experiencing a TB outbreak that is worse than in many developing countries. And Marion is not alone. As more people are tested, it is evident that TB is beginning to spread to other regions of Alabama that are also not prepared to deal with an outbreak.
In developing and developed countries alike, the same obstacles to seeking treatment are found – limited access to care, overwhelming poverty and stigma and discrimination. The TB outbreak in Alabama is a stark reminder that TB is not only the world’s problem, it is America’s problem too.