Leveling of Tuberculosis Reported in United States

Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria
Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria
Two reports released this week call for increased investments to speed development of diagnostic tests, drugs and vaccines, and to improve medication delivery.

The number of tuberculosis cases in the United States leveled last year, indicating “more comprehensive public health approaches are needed,” according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released this week. 

The report accompanies a World Health Organization (WHO) report, marking World Tuberculosis (TB) Day today, that notes that although there has been significant progress in the fight against TB, the battle is only half-won. 

“Among the 9563 TB cases reported during 2015, 3201 occurred among US-born persons, corresponding to an annual TB incidence of 1.2 per 100 000 persons,” according to the CDC’s report. “The 6335 TB cases among foreign-born persons in the United States corresponded to an annual TB incidence of 15.1 per 100 000 persons. Overall national TB incidence remained approximately 3.0 cases per 100 000 persons during 2013–2015.”

Researchers from WHO and CDC note that although momentum is growing at country and community levels, including in the 30 countries with the highest TB burden, with many countries adopting newer surveillance tools and connecting with other parts of government to reduce the financial costs borne by patients, there is clearly more work to do. 

WHO officials note that in the 10 countries with the highest incidence rates (estimated number of new TB cases  per 100 000), more than 4000 people lose their lives each day to this leading infectious disease.

Federal and world officials note that ending TB will only be achieved with greater collaboration within and across governments, and with partners from civil society, communities, researchers, the private sector, and development agencies. 

Formidable challenges remain, according to health officials, including fragile health systems, human resource and financial constraints, and serious co-epidemics with HIV, diabetes, and tobacco use.

Multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) poses another critical challenge, according to WHO officials, with an estimated 480 0000 people developing this form in 2014 alone. The reports call for increased investments to speed development of diagnostic tests, drugs and vaccines, and to improve medication delivery.    


1. CDC. Leveling of Tuberculosis Incidence — United States, 2013–2015. MMWR. 2016;65(11);273–278.

2. WHO. On the Road to Ending TB: Highlights from the 30 Highest TB Burden Countries. 2016.