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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 1, 2009

Director's Letter

Dear Colleague:

We continue to await news about funding and policy decisions that will affect our TB control activities and programs. On March 11, the President signed into law HR 1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, which includes appropriations for Health and Human Services; we will know our FY 2009 funding levels later this spring. In the meantime, DTBE staff members remain busy with new and ongoing work.

A number of important meetings were convened in late winter, and others are planned for the spring and summer. On February 4–5, members of the TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC) convened in Atlanta for the 14th semiannual meeting of the TBESC. The 13th annual conference of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD), North America Region, was held in Vancouver, Canada, February 26–28, with the theme of “Reaching the Unreached.” The Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET) met in Atlanta March 3–4. Meetings scheduled for May include the 2009 Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) annual meeting, Anchorage, Alaska, May 5–8, and the American Thoracic Society’s ATS 2009, May 15–20, San Diego, California. In addition, I hope that many of you will be attending the National TB Controllers Conference, scheduled for June 15–18.

CDC has published several important TB-related reports in recent months. One is entitled “Updated guidelines for the use of nucleic acid amplification tests in the diagnosis of tuberculosis.” MMWR January 16, 2009; 58(1): 7–10. CDC recommends that nucleic acid amplification (NAA) testing be performed on at least one respiratory specimen from each patient with signs and symptoms of pulmonary TB for whom a diagnosis of TB is being considered but has not yet been established, and for whom the test result would alter case management or TB control activities, such as contact investigations. Another is entitled “Plan to combat extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. Recommendations of the Federal Tuberculosis Task Force.” MMWR February 13, 2009; 58(RR-3): 1–43. This document recommends specific action steps to be taken in response to existing problems encountered in efforts to fight XDR TB. In addition, DTBE had three articles in the MMWR for March 20, 2009;58(10): “World TB Day—March 24, 2009”; “Trends in tuberculosis—United States, 2008”; and “Two simultaneous outbreaks of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis—Federated States of Micronesia, 2007–2009.” Please visit the DTBE website for links to all five of these reports.

In February, the CDC Office of Enterprise Communication (OEC) announced the availability of the 2008 State of CDC, the agency’s annual health impact report. The document, which is currently online, highlights success stories about health protection, cutting edge research, and disease investigations that CDC staff conducted in 2008. I am pleased to point out that the report features a TB-related story in its Best of Science section. Limited to 10 stories, this section highlights successful and inspiring programs at CDC; among these is a story entitled, “More Immigrants Being Screened for Tuberculosis.”

DTBE commemorated World TB Day with several events, starting with the Third Annual TB Awareness Walk on Saturday, March 21. Although I was unable to join in the walk this year owing to my participation in an important Stop TB Partnership meeting in Rio, I understand that this year’s walk boasted the best attendance thus far (more than 700 persons!), and we were joined by Drs. Richard Besser, acting CDC Director, and Terry Chorba, Associate Director for Science, NCHHSTP. Both offered remarks, including their personal experience in dealing with TB. The walk was followed by a World TB Day observance and luncheon on March 24. I hope you all planned similar events around this day. It is important for us to share our successes and our challenges with each other and with the public and thus increase awareness about tuberculosis. Please see the related articles about these events in this issue of TB Notes.

Kenneth G. Castro, MD

 

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