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Pennsylvania Sees Increase in Tuberculosis, Emphasizing Need for Awareness

March 24 Is World Tuberculosis Day

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State Health Secretary Everette James today stressed the need to increase public awareness of tuberculosis, or TB, and the importance of efforts to control, and eventually eliminate, the infectious disease.

"In 2008, we saw an increase in the number of cases of tuberculosis and we are seeing more cases resistant to medication, which makes the disease more difficult and costly to treat," said Secretary James. "We must continue to be diligent in our efforts to educate the public about this disease in order to prevent its spread."

In Pennsylvania, the number of reported cases of tuberculosis grew from 318 in 2007 to 345 in 2008. Department statistics indicate 12 percent of those cases were resistant to at least one traditional tuberculosis treatment medication.

Despite last year's increase, Pennsylvania's TB case rate fell 23 percent from 1998 to 2008.

World TB Day recognizes the global fight against the spread of tuberculosis and encourages better education about the importance of TB control. Although TB rates are relatively low in North America and Europe, the disease remains a serious problem in less developed regions. Globally, the disease claimed an estimated 1.6 million lives in 2005.

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease caused by bacteria. It usually affects the lungs, but it may seriously damage other parts of the body as well. Individuals can become infected if they inhale the TB bacteria of a person with pulmonary TB disease. The bacteria can get into the air by the infected person coughing, sneezing or even talking. Signs and symptoms of TB disease include cough, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss and fatigue.

For more information on tuberculosis, visit the Department of Health online at For information on World TB Day, visit

    CONTACT: Stacy Kriedeman
    (717) 787-1783

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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