U.S. Reports Decline in Tuberculosis Cases

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Mar 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/24/97

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<I><A HREF='http://www.clari.net/'>ClariNet</A> <CLARI-ITEM TYPE>story</CLARI-ITEM> <B><CLARI-ITEM SLUGWORD>NEWS-TB</CLARI-ITEM></B> from <CLARI-ITEM FROM>Reuters</CLARI-ITEM></I><BR>
<H1><CLARI-ITEM HEADLINE>U.S. Reports Decline in Tuberculosis Cases</CLARI-ITEM></H1>
<I><B><CLARI-ITEM COPYRIGHT>Copyright 1997 by Reuters</CLARI-ITEM></B></I> / <I><CLARI-ITEM DATE>Mon, 24 Mar 1997 12:41:11 PST</CLARI-ITEM></I><P>
<P> NEW YORK (Reuter) - The number of new cases of tuberculosis
in the United States decreased for the fourth consecutive year
in 1996, with New York City leading the way in fighting the
disease, officials said Monday.</P>
<P> The announcement at a news conference in Harlem,
historically a community hard hit by tuberculosis, followed a
report last week by the World Health Organization (WHO) that
said a new strategy in treatment could save millions of lives
<P> ``The data demonstrates that this disease is still very much
with us but that we are on the right track,'' Dr. Kenneth
Castro, director of the divison of TB elimination at the U.S.
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters at
Harlem Hospital.</P>
<P> ``For the fourth year in a row, the number of tuberculosis
cases has declined in the United States ... this recovery shows
how important it is for us to learn from our past mistakes and
to continue to fight relentlessly to eliminate tuberculosis in
the United States,'' he said.</P>
<P> Castro said the number of TB cases in 1996 decreased 6.7
percent to 21,327 cases from 22,860 cases in 1995. New York
officials, at the same news conference, also reported a fourth
consecutive year of decline -- 2,053 new cases in 1996 compared
with 2,445 in 1995.</P>
<P> New York accounted for 26 percent of the decrease in all TB
cases reported across the country, city officials said. There
were 14 years of increases in new TB patients in the city before
the decline began 4 years ago.</P>
<P> ``It is imperative that we continue to provide adequate
resources to control TB,'' New York City Health Commissioner
Margaret Hamburg said. ``In the 1960s and '70s, we made the
mistake of thinking that TB could not resurface in America and
we allowed the resources and infrastructure that had been built
up to decline.''</P>
<P> The WHO said last Wednesday that the administration of
Directly Observed Treatment Short-course, or DOTS, was causing
the worldwide TB epidemic to level off for the first time in
<P> DOTS calls for training health workers or community members
to counsel and observe patients to insure they take the standard
four antibiotics, not only until symptoms disappear but until
they are cured.</P>
<P> The WHO programme could also dramatically reduce the threat
of the emergence of TB bacilli resistant to drugs, and could cut
long-term costs, representatives from the United Nations health
agency said.</P>
<P> WHO said nearly three million people died from the disease
last year, more people than at the epidemic's height in the
first part of the century, when it swept across North America
and Europe, killing one out of every seven people.</P>
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