Health Department: 86 Percent The City's Patients Were Born Outside Of The United States

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tuberculosis appears to be on the rise in New York City.

TB cases have increased 10 percent, with 613 cases in 2017, up from 556 the previous year, according to the report by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The number of people diagnosed with multidrug-resistant form of the disease also increased.

“Tuberculosis is a deadly, yet curable disease. The Health Department is the leading provider of tuberculosis care in New York City, and we are concerned about these new data that show TB rates have increased among New Yorkers,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “We’re committed to ensuring equitable access to rapid and quality diagnosis and treatment for all New Yorkers.”

People born outside the United States account for 86 percent of the city’s TB patients. In addition, Queens remained the borough with the highest rate of the disease (10.6 per 100,000 people). The citywide rate is 7.5 per 100,000 people, the report said.

“New York City has been a leader in TB control, and we need to address this increase in cases,” said Dr. Joseph Burzynski, assistant commissioner of the Health Department’s Bureau of TB Control. “It will require a coordinated public health response, coupled with the city’s robust health care infrastructure, to make progress in the effort to eliminate tuberculosis as a threat in New York City.”

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It has two stages: latent TB infection and active TB disease. The former happens when bacteria are living in the body, but not causing any symptoms. Symptoms of the latter form of the disease may include weight loss, a persistent cough, chest pain, coughing up blood or phlegm, loss of appetite, chills, fever, or night sweats.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, tuberculosis can be prevented and cured, doctors say.

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