TB Cases Up by 5% Nationwide in 2022

Secondary tuberculosis in lungs and close-up view of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, 3D illustration. | Image by Kateryna Kon, Shutterstock

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the number of tuberculosis cases in the United States rose by 5% in 2022, with higher infection rates seen among children under age 4.

The CDC logged 8,300 cases of tuberculosis nationwide in 2022, of which 202 were among children aged 4 and under.

This demonstrates a rapid increase of 26% among the younger part of the population, with only 160 cases recorded in 2021.

Furthermore, 73% of the reported TB cases occurred among people not born in the U.S., according to CDC data.

All of this points to a concerning trend of new transmissions causing active TB infections rather than latent or asymptomatic ones.

The CDC describes TB as caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that wreaks havoc on the lungs and has the potential to spread to other organs in the body, especially among young children or individuals with compromised immune systems.

When latent, the infection produces no symptoms and can remain dormant for years.

Yet when TB does manifest itself as an active infection, it wages war on the body. Symptoms include fever, chills, bloody mucus, and pains in the chest.

It is also possible to infect others extremely quickly through exposure to fluids produced when a person speaks, sneezes, or coughs.

A diagnosis of TB is commonly made via a chest x-ray and a tuberculin skin test, which may yield a small bump if the infection is present.

While a vaccine exists for TB, it is typically only given to those who have been exposed to an infected person.

There is also an effective drug treatment available for TB using antibacterial medications such as rifampin and rifapentine.

Yet TB can also present in a drug-resistant form, much like other superbugs.

As The Dallas Express reported, the CDC warned earlier this year that another form of bacteria known as Shigella was causing drug-resistant infections of shigellosis.

Yeast is also capable of becoming drug-resistant, as The Dallas Express reported. Infections of Candida auris — a fungus — have been reported in greater numbers across the U.S. Capable of causing severe illness in individuals with weakened immune systems, medical experts say infections tend to affect those who are already hospitalized.

Alongside taking proper precautions against TB, such as keeping a distance from someone who has it and being tested if exposed, it is important to take the full course of antibiotics prescribed — which can last for between three and 12 months. Failing to do so contributes to the generation of drug-resistant forms of TB.

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