Celebrating World Tuberculosis Day 2012

(March 14, 2012)

On March 24, 1882, Dr. Robert Koch unveiled his research and isolated Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the cause of tuberculosis (TB). Now celebrated as World Tuberculosis Day, March 24 commemorates the progress that has been made all around the world to eradicate TB.

TB is a contagious airborne infection that is treated with antibiotics, and without treatment, it can be fatal. Every year, TB is responsible for 1.4 million deaths globally, primarily in developing countries. The symptoms vary from weight loss to coughing, and the infection is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.

For more than 100 years, the American Lung Association pursued its vision of a world without TB, and within the first 50 years of its efforts, TB in the United States was no longer an endemic disease. Today, TB infection rates in the United States are the lowest recorded since national reporting began in 1953, but the decline has slowed in recent years.

The American Lung Association continues to work nationwide to promote lung health and has funded more than $2.2 million in TB research over the past decade, and advocates for TB prevention funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as globally. The ALA also supports public education activities to increase awareness and prevention of TB and to reduce the burden for patients with TB, their families and caregivers.

Founded in 1904, the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis was the first voluntary health organization in the United States dedicated to improving the health of Americans suffering from TB. In 1973, the organization was renamed the American Lung Association, as its mission expanded to other lung diseases including asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and influenza, in addition to its fight against TB. Find out how you can join the American Lung Association in fighting for air at www.fightingforair.org.