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World TB Day --- March 24, 2002

March 24, 2002, will mark the 20th annual World TB Day, which recognizes the collaborative efforts of all countries involved in working to eliminate tuberculosis (TB). TB is the second leading infectious cause of death among adults worldwide: approximately 2 million persons die each year from TB, and an estimated 2 billion persons---one third of the world's population---are infected with the bacteria that cause TB.

After years of steady decline in the United States, the number of reported TB cases increased by 20% during 1985--1992. This resurgence was associated with deterioration of the infrastructure for TB services, the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic, immigration of persons from countries in which TB is endemic, TB transmission in institutional settings (e.g., hospitals and prisons), and development of multidrug-resistant TB. However, since 1992, a renewed emphasis on TB control and prevention has resulted in substantial declines in the disease. In 2001, the provisional number of TB cases decreased for the ninth straight year to an all-time low of 15,991 cases, a 2% decrease over the 16,377 cases reported in 2000.

Achieving the goal of eliminating TB in the United States will require both the ability to increase resources rapidly for local TB control efforts when outbreaks occur and greatly increased efforts to combat the devastating impact of the global TB epidemic. This issue of MMWR highlights two of CDC's efforts to eliminate TB---both domestically and internationally. Additional information on World TB Day and CDC's TB elimination activities is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/tb.

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