Tuberculosis cases among foreign-born people in the United States fell by one-fifth in recent years, and the reasons for the decline depend on people’s country of origin, a new study suggests.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection affecting the lungs and sometimes other organs. Overall, TB cases in the United States decreased over the past two decades, but TB cases among foreign-born people remained higher than in the general population, the study authors said.
Between 2007 and 2011, there was a 19 percent drop in TB cases among all foreign-born people in the nation, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TB cases declined in people recently arriving from Mexico, China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam — the five countries that account for most of the foreign-born people with TB in the United States, the researchers said.
Among recent entrants from Mexico, 80 percent of the decrease in TB was due to a decrease in population, while declines among recent entrants from the other four countries were nearly all due to lower TB case rates.
TB rates also decreased among entrants who have lived in the United States longer and who account for about three-quarters of TB cases among foreign-born people in the country, according to the study published Feb. 10 in the journal PLoS One.
“These results are important because they help guide future TB control strategies. To accelerate the decline of TB in the U.S., it will be important to invest in TB control overseas as well as provide testing and treatment to those with TB infection among the [approximately] 43 million foreign-born persons currently living in the U.S.,” study author Dr. Brian Baker and his colleagues from the CDC wrote.
The American Lung Association has more about tuberculosis.