TB, tuberculosis, rise in tuberculosis among foreigners
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Dr. Michael Iseman speaks at the
University of Mississippi Medical Center
in Jackson, Miss., during a TB symposium.

TB on the Rise Among U.S. Immigrants

July 24, 2008 06:02 AM
by Isabel Cowles
Despite an overall decline in tuberculosis rates among American citizens, the rate of the diseases has climbed among immigrants.

30-Second Summary

According to a study based on 2006 statistics from the Center for Disease Control, tuberculosis rates among U.S. immigrants have increased sharply, despite decreases in the American population.

The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, notes that, “TB rates were highest among residents from lower Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.”

“The overall rate of TB in the U.S. is fewer than 5 per 100,000, according to researchers at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention,” the Associated Press reports.

According to the AP, “Public health officials worry that drug-resistant TB could become a worldwide scourge because of global travel and immigration.”

Dr. Kevin Cain, the study’s lead author, suggested that, in addition to screening new immigrants (which is already required by U.S. law), less recent foreign-born arrivals should also be tested and treated for latent TB.

TB can lie dormant for years and then suddenly become actively infectious, meaning that the disease often goes undetected. Foreign-born US citizens are rarely tested for TB after entry into the U.S. With more than 37 million foreign-born people currently in the United States, universally administering skin tests, “would be daunting to say the least,” Cain said.

Headline Link: TB cases on the rise among U.S. immigrants

Background: TB up among foreign-born in U.S. and other Western countries

Opinion & Analysis: Foreign-born U.S. residents need access to tests, treatment

Reference: JAMA study and tuberculosis statistics

Study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association
CDC Tuberculosis statistics from 2006

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