March 22, 2019

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
               Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

World TB Day is March 24


The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is joining a global initiative to raise awareness about tuberculosis (TB) during World TB Day on March 24.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosts a new theme and activities related to World TB Day. This year’s theme is: It’s Time!

This theme outlines 4 key areas:

  • It’s time to test and treat latent TB infection
  • It’s time we strengthen TB education and awareness among health care providers
  • It’s time to speak up
  • It’s time to end stigma

“While Montana has seen great progress in the reduction of TB disease in the last 20 years, the objective of TB elimination in the U.S. and Montana will only be achieved with an increase in education and awareness,” said DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan.

DPHHS officials say TB continues to pose a significant public health challenge. One fourth of the world’s population is infected with TB, also known as latent TB.

TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and TB disease. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

Many of those with latent TB, an estimated 10 million people in 2017, will progress to active TB disease becoming ill and allowing transmission to occur. Despite the availability of effective treatments, 1.3 million TB-related deaths worldwide occurred in 2017.

In the United States, approximately 10,000 cases of active TB disease are still reported annually. In Montana over the past 10 years, there’s been an average of six active cases per year, down significantly from 13 cases per year experienced in the prior decade.

Each year, March 24 commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of the TB bacteria.

For more information on tuberculosis, this year’s theme, activities, who should get tested, and more see our webpage at: https://dphhs.mt.gov