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Topics in Minority Health Tuberculosis Among Hispanics -- United States, 1985

In 1985, 22,201 tuberculosis cases were reported to CDC, for a rate of 9.3/100,000 U.S. population (1). Fourteen percent (3,134) of the 22,067 patients with known ethnicity were Hispanic. Ninety-seven percent (3,032) of these Hispanics were white. The rate among Hispanics was 18.1/100,000, which is 4 times the rate of 4.5/100,000 for the non-Hispanic white population.

Tuberculosis cases among Hispanics were reported from 11% (337) of the nation's 3,138 counties (Figure 1). California reported 40% (1,239) of the cases among Hispanics; Texas, 23% (731); New York, 13% (394); and all other states combined, 25% (770).

Thirty-four percent (1,064) of the 3,134 Hispanic patients were born in the United States, including 5% (169) from Puerto Rico. Forty-two percent (1,306) were foreign- born. There was no information on place of birth for 24% (764). Country of origin was known for 1,284 of the foreign-born patients. Of these, 62% (799) were from Mexico; 6% (81) were from Cuba; 5% (70) were from El Salvador; and 26% (334) were from 29 other countries. Twenty-three percent (219) of the 944 foreign-born patients with known year of arrival developed tuberculosis within their first year of residence in the United States; 11% developed it within their second year of residence.

Forty-eight percent (1,503) of the 3,132 patients with known age were less than 35 years of age, and 11% (350) were less than 15 years. Foreign-born patients were even younger. Of these, 57% (535) were less than 35 years of age when tuberculosis was reported, and an additional 17% (157) were less than 35 years of age when they arrived in the United States. Reported by: Div of Tuberculosis Control, Center for Prevention Svcs, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: All states are currently submitting information on the ethnicity of tuberculosis patients. The difficulty of accurately estimating population sizes within this group between censuses makes it impossible, however, to reliably determine rates of tuberculosis among Hispanics by geographic area. However, a large proportion of Hispanics live in California, Texas, and New York, and three-quarters of the tuberculosis cases among Hispanics were reported from these areas.

Hispanics, 17.3 million of whom resided in the United States in 1985, are the second largest minority in the United States (2). They are also the youngest minority population in the United States (2). Similarly, Hispanics reported to have tuberculosis in 1985 were younger than tuberculosis patients among other minorities (3-5). They were considerably younger than non-Hispanic whites with tuberculosis (6). Almost half were younger than 35 years of age.

Foreign-born Hispanics accounted for 40% of all Hispanic tuberculosis patients and were younger than Hispanic tuberculosis patients born in the United States. Three- quarters of foreign-born Hispanic patients were younger than 35 years of age when they arrived in the United States. Furthermore, over 30% of these patients developed tuberculosis within their first 2 years of residence in the United States.

These data indicate that a large proportion of tuberculosis among Hispanics is potentially preventable. Preventive chemotherapy should be offered to infected persons according to current guidelines (7).


  1. CDC. Tuberculosis--United States, 1985. MMWR 1986;35:699-703.

  2. Spencer G. Projections of the Hispanic population: 1983 to 2080. Washington, DC: Bureau of the Census, 1986. (Current Population Reports; series P-25, no. 995).

  3. CDC. Tuberculosis in blacks--United States. MMWR 1987;36:212-4,219-20.

  4. CDC. Tuberculosis among Asians/Pacific Islanders. MMWR 1987;36:331-4.

  5. CDC. Tuberculosis among American Indians and Alaskan Natives--United States, 1985. MMWR 1987;36:493-5.

  6. CDC. Tuberculosis in Minorities--United States. MMWR 1987;36:77-80.

  7. American Thoracic Society, CDC. Treatment of tuberculosis and tuberculosis infection in adults and children. Am Rev Respir Dis 1986;134:355-63.

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