World TB Day: Tuberculosis awareness crucial for elimination efforts

Dr. Kenneth Castro of the Center for Disease Control warned this week that public awareness of tuberculosis has waned in recent years.

"The most common misconception is that TB is a disease of the past...but by the end of today 30 persons in our country will be newly diagnosed with TB" Castro said at a congressional TB briefing on Tuesday.

The briefing was hosted by Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-NY), Gene Green (D-TX) and Don Young (R-AK) of the TB Elimination Caucus, who stressed that TB research and awareness should be a priority issue both at home and abroad.

"For as much as we spend on drugs in other arenas, maybe this would be a more, I say, worthwhile effort," Young said.

In the U.S., more than half of all reported TB cases occur in the states of California, Texas, New York, and Florida.

Castro said that federal funding of TB initiatives through the CDC has dropped since 2011, and that the President's proposed 2013 budget would decrease TB funding by $4.6 million. Pointing to the dangers of complacency, Castro warned that "the issue now confronting the nation is whether we will allow another cycle of neglect to begin, or instead whether we will take decisive action to eliminate TB."