Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

World Tuberculosis (TB) Day

Photo: TB clinician

World TB Day is observed every year on March 24. Learn how CDC is working for a TB free world.

World TB Day commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB. This year’s World TB Day theme “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World. We can make history. End TB” highlights the importance of engaging and empowering leaders in public health, government, medicine, and communities in efforts to eliminate TB.

TB is preventable and curable, yet it remains the world’s leading infectious disease killer. TB affects millions around the world; in every state; in rural areas and cities; in schools, workplaces, homes; and in many other places where people are in close contact. Drug-resistance continues to threaten our ability to treat and control TB disease. Better diagnostics, shorter treatment regimens, and strong partnerships domestic and globally are needed to accelerate the path to elimination. Learn what CDC is doing in the United States and around the world to eliminate this devastating disease.

CDC is working to expand latent TB infection testing and treatment in the United States

Graphic: World TB Day March 24

The United States has made great progress towards the goal of TB elimination. In 2017, the United States reported 9,093 cases of tuberculosis – the lowest number of cases on record. The decline in TB case counts in the United States are a credit to the work of local TB control programs in finding and treating people with TB disease to stop the cycle of transmission. Eliminating TB in the United States requires continuing these efforts to control TB disease, and expanding testing and treatment of latent TB infection to prevent the development of TB disease.

Up to 13 million people in the United States have latent TB infection. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. Without treatment, they are at risk for developing TB disease at some point in their lives. CDC recommends that people at risk for latent TB infection should be tested and treated to prevent the development of TB disease.

CDC in partnership with state and local TB control programs, clinicians, and researchers across the United States, is working to turn TB elimination into reality. Some of the current activities include:

Dr Jess Potter and Dr Chhim examine a TB patient’s x-ray at Kampong Cham hospital, Cambodia.

A CDC airborne infection control engineer checks a biosafety cabinet to demonstrate TB infection control knowledge and skills – June, 2017

Providing funding and technical assistance to state and local TB control programs.

Clinicians, health care agencies, and community organizations, especially those serving at-risk populations, have a critical role in TB elimination. Many of those at high risk for latent TB infection do not traditionally receive care in health departments — but are seen by private community providers and community health centers. Engaging these partners is critical to future success.

CDC is working to find, cure, and prevent TB around the world

At CDC we are helping to drive global progress against TB by bringing to bear a combination of scientific expertise and on-the-ground experience diagnosing, curing, and preventing TB worldwide. We’re on the frontlines in more than 25 high-burden countries working with partner governments and helping sustain country efforts.

Today, we stand at a critical juncture in find, curing, and preventing TB globally. As a global leader in the fight to end TB, CDC is uniquely poised to change the trajectories on future TB incidence and mortality – identifying missing TB cases, confronting drug-resistant tuberculosis, and addressing HIV and TB co-infection which is critical to ending the TB epidemic. CDC brings a distinctive combination of strong scientific and technical expertise, strong peer-to-peer relationships with Ministries of Health, and the strategic use of data to increase impact and effectiveness, as well as possessing exceptional global and domestic reach and impact.

Graphic: CDC's innovative efforts to find, cure, and prevent TB are creating a safer America and a safer world.

Fighting TB at home and abroad: As part of a World TB Day campaign, this social media card reminds stakeholders that “TB anywhere is TB everywhere” using the hashtag campaign #CDCFightsTB.

We possess the tools and innovative strategies to tackle this public health challenge.

  • FIND: By expanding access to better screening, contact tracing, and diagnostics for missing cases
  • CURE: By identifying better treatment regimens and expanding access to care and treatment
  • PREVENT: By breaking the cycle of transmission through infection control, identifying TB hotspots to target screening, and by scaling up treatment to prevent TB
  • SUSTAIN: By helping countries strengthen their surveillance and laboratory systems, workforce, and research capacity to support sustainable health systems

As a global community we have made tremendous progress. Global efforts have saved more than saved 50 million lives between 2000 and 2016. And while TB extracts a severe economic toll, efforts to end TB are one of the best public health investments made – for every dollar spent on TB there is a resulting economic benefit of $43.

Despite this progress, TB remains the world’s top infectious disease killer. Ending TB will require a sustained global commitment.

We can and must do more. In September, CDC will join world leaders, advocates, and funders at the first-ever UN High Level Meeting on TB. The UN meeting represents a unique opportunity to build greater urgency and innovation into the fight against the deadly TB epidemic.

Until TB is eliminated, World TB Day will not be a celebration. However, it is a valuable opportunity to educate the public about the devastation of TB disease and how we can work together to prevent it. CDC remains committed to confining TB to the pages of history in the United States and around the world.

For more information on CDC’s TB activities in the U.S. click here. For more information on CDC’s global TB activities click here.

TOP