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World TB Day, March 24, 2003

World TB Day is an annual event that commemorates the date in 1882 when Robert Koch announced his discovery of the tuberculosis (TB) bacillus. TB is one of the leading causes of death from infectious diseases worldwide. An estimated 2 billion persons---one third of the world's population---are infected with the bacteria that cause TB, and approximately 2 million persons die each year from TB. After years of decline in the United States, the number of reported TB cases increased 20% during 1985--1992. This resurgence was associated with deterioration of the infrastructure for TB services, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic, immigration of persons from countries where TB is endemic, TB transmission in congregate settings (e.g., hospitals and prisons), and development of multidrug-resistant TB. However, a renewed emphasis on TB control and prevention in the 1990s resulted in substantial declines in the disease. Provisional data indicate that 2002 will mark the 10th consecutive year of declining TB cases reported in the United States.

CDC is committed to the goal of eliminating TB in the United States. However, achieving this goal will not be possible without strengthening collaborations with national and international health partners to reach those at highest risk for TB and identifying innovative strategies to improve testing and treatment among high-risk populations. One important CDC effort has been the establishment of a binational TB referral system for TB patients who cross the United States--Mexico border. Other efforts include supporting public health action through prompt and accurate TB surveillance, assisting with the control of domestic outbreaks, and contributing to the global effort against TB. Additional information about World TB Day and CDC's TB elimination activities is available at

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