Tuberculosis: Still Lurking and Evolving

World TB Day is March 24

(March 22, 2013)

Despite popular misconceptions that tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the past, it continues to pose a threat to public health. In observance of World TB Day on March 24, the American Lung Association is calling attention to the increase of drug-resistant forms of TB and stressing the importance of adequate public health funding to address this serious health risk.

TB is a contagious airborne infection caused by an organism called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which usually attacks the lungs. One-third of the world’s population is currently infected with TB.  Each year, close to 9 million people worldwide are diagnosed with TB, and nearly 1.5 million people die.  Millions more are expected to die from TB in the next decade.

“The American Lung Association was intregal in eliminating TB as the biggest public health threat decades ago,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “However, we have never forgotten that TB still affects millions worldwide and have continued to fund valuable research. We must not let the sequestration budget cuts keep the U.S. government from doing the same.”

While current TB rates in the U.S. are the lowest since national reporting began in 1953, the decline has slowed in recent years.  The slowing decline of TB rates in the U.S., along with the widespread emergence of drug-resistant strains of the disease, highlight the need to maintain focus on eradicating TB through surveillance, treatment and prevention.

“In addition to maintaining funding so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can continue their work with TB, the U.S. government needs to also continue funding lifesaving research at the National Institutes of Health,” continued Seyler. “With drug resistant strains of TB growing in our country, we must stay ahead of the curve in order to save lives.”

The American Lung Association is at the forefront of funding research on these vital issues and examining the links between TB and other lung diseases and risk factors. Since 2002, the Lung Association has provided more than $2.7 million in support of TB.

Local American Lung Association Funded Tuberculosis Research

Jessica Seeliger
State University of New York, Stony Brook, N.Y.
Targeting Latent and Multi-Drug Resistant TB

Current American Lung Association Funded Tuberculosis Research

Vikram Saini, Ph.D.
University of Alabama, Birmingham, Ala.
Link Between Cigarette Smoke and Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

Lucian Davis, M.D., MAS
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.
New DNA Test May Cut Down on Unneeded TB Treatment

To learn more about these studies and other research supported by the American Lung Association, view our “Research Awards Nationwide” report at  More on tuberculosis is available here.