Dear Colleague Letters

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Maintaining Essential Components of TB Control Programs

July 30, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As U.S. cases of tuberculosis (TB) disease decline, and efforts to reduce latent TB infection expand,  the Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET) and the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association (NTCA) have updated the 1995 recommendations on the essential TB program elements needed in U.S. public health jurisdictions to maintain progress toward national and international objectives. The recommendations, “Essential Components of a Public Health Tuberculosis Prevention, Control, and Elimination Program: Recommendations of the Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis and the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association” were recently published in CDC’s MMWR Recommendations and Reports, and reemphasize the importance of three priority strategies for TB prevention and control.

These recommendations include:

  • identifying and treating TB disease;
  • finding and screening persons who have had contact with TB patients and providing appropriate treatment for TB infection or disease; and
  • screening, testing, and treating populations at high risk for latent TB infection.

This report also includes descriptions of CDC-funded resources, available tests, and treatment regimens. I would like to thank ACET and NTCA members for their contributions and work on this important update.

Maintaining these essential components of TB control programs is especially important as personnel from state, local, and territorial TB programs are being deployed for their jurisdictions’ COVID-19 response. TB control professionals possess critical skills and expertise needed for the response, including contact tracing, infection control, and clinical care and treatment.

CDC and NTCA recently published “Notes from the Field: Effects of the COVID-19 Response on Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Efforts — United States, March–April 2020.” Most TB programs (60-72%) experienced partial or high impact on staff capacity and TB control services. As the response to COVID-19 continues, it is important for TB programs to maintain these essential services of TB prevention and control.

CDC is committed to supporting TB programs through technical assistance and promoting TB and COVID-19 resources through our TB and Public Health Emergencies website. Resources for public health professionals, clinicians, and partners are also available on CDC’s COVID-19 website.

Thank you for your hard work in the COVID-19 response, and in all that you do to continue to prevent and control TB,

/Philip LoBue/
Philip LoBue, MD, FACP, FCCP Director
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention