Tuberculosis in Maryland county doubles national average

The rate of tuberculosis among residents of Montgomery County, Maryland, is double the national average, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The county, which also has the highest TB average in the state, experienced 73 cases of the disease in 2011, representing a case rate of 7.6 cases per 100,000 residents. Overall, the state had 234 cases last year and a case rate of four cases for every 100,000 residents. The case rate in the United States last year was 3.6 per 100,000 people, the Washington Examiner reports.

Ulder Tillman, the health officer for Montgomery County, said that one of the reasons for the high rate is the large immigrant population in the county. Of the 73 cases of TB last year, eight percent were found in residents born outside of the United States.

Fairfax County, which saw a similarly high case rate of 7.2 cases per 100,000 residents, also has a high immigrant population.

"Fairfax County is an immigrant gateway and TB incidence remains high due to the continued predominance of foreign-born individuals among local TB cases," a Fairfax County Health Department report said, according to the Washington Examiner.

The TB infection rate is thought to be higher in immigrants as a result of cultural and language barriers and insufficient access to housing, healthcare or transportation.