Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
What is the global impact of tuberculosis?
- In 2018, 1.7 billion people were infected by TB bacteria — roughly 23% of the world’s population. TB is the leading infectious disease killer in the world, claiming 1.5 million lives each year.
- Of the 10 million individuals who became ill with TB in 2018, approximately three million were “missed” by health systems and do not get the care they need, allowing the disease to continue to be transmitted.
- Resistance to anti-TB drugs can occur when these drugs are misused or mismanaged. Examples include when patients do not complete their full course of treatment; when health-care providers prescribe the wrong treatment, the wrong dose, or length of time for taking the drugs; when the supply of drugs is not always available; or when the drugs are of poor quality.
- Multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is TB resistant to two of the most important drugs used to treat TB: Isoniazid (INH) and Rifampin (RIF).
- Extensively drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a rare type of MDR-TB that is resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, plus any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs (i.e., amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin). Because XDR-TB is resistant to the most potent TB drugs, patients are left with treatment options that are much less effective.
- XDR-TB is of special concern for persons with HIV infection or other conditions that can weaken the immune system. These persons are more likely to develop TB disease once they are infected, and also have a higher risk of death once they develop TB.
Who is at risk?
- Because the reach of TB is so broad, to effectively and fully address MDR-TB in the U.S., MDR-TB must be addressed globally in the places hardest hit. TB anywhere is TB everywhere – it spreads from person to person and doesn’t respect borders. Recent models show that unless we scale up efforts to address this growing threat, the number of people dying from drug-resistant TB will nearly double every 5 years.
What is CDC doing?
- CDC conducts a wide range of activities to find, cure, and prevent TB, including
- Developing innovative approaches to find and treat the roughly 4 million people each year who develop TB disease who are either undiagnosed, unreported, or inappropriately treated
- Strengthening lab networks and surveillance systems to allow for fast and accurate diagnosis of TB cases
- Identifying the best methods to diagnose TB among children and people living with HIV
- Conducting research to identify better, less toxic treatment regimens that cure patients faster
- Shoring up basic TB prevention and infection control efforts around the world to break the cycle of transmission and prevent the development of drug resistance
- Establishing best practices to end TB transmission in health facilities
- Providing HIV testing to TB patients and supporting HIV treatment for people living with HIV and TB co-infection
- Expanding TB preventative treatment for people living with HIV, whose weakened immune systems make them more vulnerable to becoming ill from TB
Global Epidemiology of Tuberculosis and Progress Toward Meeting Global Targets — Worldwide, 2018
Globally, tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death by an infectious disease. In 2018, an estimated 10 million incident TB cases and 1.5 million TB deaths occurred, reductions of 2% and 5%, respectively, from 2017.
On September 26, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly held the first high-level meeting on TB and committed to providing TB preventive treatment (TPT) to 30 million persons by 2022, and the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) announced a goal to provide TPT to all 13.6 million ART patients supported by PEPFAR by 2021. TPT expansion could save hundreds of thousands of lives annually. This will require all PEPFAR-supported countries to estimate the TPT-eligible population, identify barriers to initiation and completion of TPT, and improve data monitoring and reporting.
- Global Health Center’s Division of Global HIV and TB
- Read the full Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Global Epidemiology of Tuberculosis and Progress Toward Meeting Global Targets — Worldwide, 2018
- Read the full Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Tuberculosis Preventive Treatment Scale-Up Among Antiretroviral Therapy Patients — 16 Countries Supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, 2017–2019
- Find more of CGH’s latest science on tuberculosis
Tuberculosis – CDC in the News
Contagion Live: Report Details Small Declines in TB, Calls for More Intensive Efforts– March 31, 2020
“Individuals at high risk for developing TB disease – which includes people living with HIV and household contacts of TB cases, especially children – can benefit greatly from TPT.”
-Dr. Adam MacNeil, Global Tuberculosis, Prevention and Control Branch
- Browse global tuberculosis publications
- Global Tuberculosis Fact Sheets
- Read CDC’s latest global tuberculosis news releases
- Browse Global TB images on the CGH Flickr stream or search by topic or country
- Search images by topic on the Public Health Image Library (PHIL)
- Learn more about tuberculosis
- Explore key facts about the global HIV & TB epidemics
Contact media relations to speak with a CDC tuberculosis expert
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