World TB Day

blog_logoEvery year the CDC recognizes March 24th as World TB Day to build awareness on the issues of TB to commemorate Dr. Robert Koch’s discovery of the bacillus that causes tuberculosis in 1882. In the United States, many people think that Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the past; however in 2010 an estimated 8.8 million people worldwide became ill from TB. In 2010 over 11 thousand cases were reported in the US with higher rates among foreign born persons living in the US. The NIH states that TB is a disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) that spreads through the air by way of coughs or sneezes.

People who contract TB may not realize they have the disease until it becomes active many years later. Some groups at a high risk for developing TB disease include people living with HIV/AIDS, the elderly and children younger than 5 years old, persons who inject illegal drugs, healthcare workers and those with inadequately treated or untreated TB. TB can be treated successfully in most people with 6 to 12 months of appropriately prescribed antibiotics. Drug resistant TB requires the use of special TB drugs for up to 2 years some of which can produce side effects. Even with this special treatment about 5 out of 10 patients with drug resistant TB will die.

Currently, defense against TB is challenging. Although there is a vaccine recommended for infants in parts of the world where TB is prevalent, it is not as effective in protecting adults and is currently not given to infants in the US. In the US, healthcare providers typically try to identify TB infections as early as possible by determining a person’s contact risk and by utilizing a test such as the Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST). The TST is performed by using a needle and syringe to inject a small amount of tuberculin between the layers of skin on the forearm. Most people who have TB infection will have a reaction at the injection site. A trained healthcare worker will examine the site within 72 hours to determine if the reaction is considered positive or negative.

The Industrial Health Council offers the Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST) in addition to our Employee Health & Wellness Worksite Screening Services which consists of BMI, blood pressure check, cholesterol test, glucose test and sleep apnea screening questionnaire. For more information on any of IHC’s health and wellness screening programs contact Gigi Talley at 205-326-4109, email: or visit our website at