When my parents were young back in the early 1940s, tuberculosis (Tb) was a common disease. There were Tb sanitariums around the country and sadly, when my dad was 8 years old, his mother succumbed to the disease. The stories from that time are heartbreaking and unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in Tb cases again.
The good news is that we now know way more than we did back then. We understand how the disease spreads, how to prevent it and how to treat both active and latent cases. We aren’t automatically testing people on an annual basis, but rather, conservatively, based on symptoms. That said, I viewed a recent CDC presentation on Tb and it honestly raised some concerns. Did you know that:
- In 2020 approximately 9.9 million people fell ill with Tb?
- Only 5.8 million people reported having access to Tb care, down from 7.1 million in 2019
- Tb deaths increased during the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time in over a decade
- Fewer people were diagnosed and treated or provided with Tb preventive treatment
Wow, not liking these statistics, are you? This presentation can be viewed using the link. Everyone needs to take these statistics seriously; we can’t sit back and wait for someone else to take charge. Educate your team, educate your families, be alert to subtle changes in condition and be sure your medical director and pharmacist are prepared to jump on anything that remotely looks like a case of Tb! Stay well and stay informed!