Unite to End TB - World TB Day 2016
(March 23, 2016)
Despite popular misconceptions that tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the past, it continues to pose a real threat to public health. In fact, an outbreak in rural Alabama this January was a stern reminder of the importance of continued vigilance and adequate public health funding to address this serious health risk.
World TB Day falls on March 24 each year, commemorating the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. It's designed to raise public awareness that tuberculosis is still a threat, and an epidemic in much of the world. This year's theme is"Unite to End TB" and the American Lung Association is proud to be a key player in the effort to end TB, in the U.S. and around the globe.
TB is a contagious airborne infection. It is treated with antibiotics, and without treatment, it can be fatal. Every year, TB is responsible for 1.5 million deaths globally, mostly in developing countries. The symptoms vary from weight loss to coughing, and the infection is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.
The American Lung Association was founded as a voluntary health association dedicated to combatting tuberculosis. Within the first 50 years of our efforts, TB in the United States was no longer a widespread disease. Today, TB infection rates in the U.S. are the lowest recorded since national reporting began in 1953. However, the decline has slowed in recent years and the emergence of drug-resistant strains of the disease highlight the need to maintain focus on eradicating TB through surveillance, treatment and prevention.
Research is one of the key tools in keeping TB at bay and the Lung Association has funded millions of dollars in TB research over the past decade. Researchers we fund are working on studies that could lead to the identification of genes that contribute to TB susceptibility, preventing latent TB from becoming active TB, and learning how the immune system recognizes TB, which could lead to a vaccine!
One of our researchers, Eyal Oren, PhD, is exploring an innovative way to use texting to help people with latent TB stick to their treatment regimen. His blog explains how this technique could help patients prevent spread of the disease.
The Lung Association continues to advocate for TB prevention funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and through the U.S. Agency for International Development. We also support public education activities to increase awareness and prevention of TB and to reduce the burden for patients with TB, their families and caregivers.
TAKE ACTION and urge Congress to fully fund the critical TB programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as at the U.S. Agency for International Development, so we can put TB behind us and end it for good. You can also use your social media channels to promote TB awareness by joining the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Thunderclap on March 24.