- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Health officials announced yesterday that the number of tuberculosis cases in the District — which had the highest rate of TB cases in the nation in 2003 — increased by 3 percent last year.

Cases of active TB reported in 2004 totaled 81, up from 79 in 2003. The District averaged 14 cases per 100,000 people in 2003, and 14.2 cases per 100,000 last year.

“We would not want to characterize the TB incidents in the city as an epidemic,” said Rolando Andrewn, chief executive officer for the American Lung Association in the District. “The numbers are generated through a number of different conditions.”

Nine percent of those infected last year were homeless, more than 22 percent were HIV-positive and 33 percent were foreign-born.

The announcement came as area health advocates recognize tomorrow’s World TB Day by calling for greater funding for prevention and control of the disease.

“We are strongly encouraging our legislators at the federal level to reverse their plan to cut funding to fight tuberculosis. Now is not the time to cut federal support for TB control,” said Dr. James L. McDaniel, chairman of the American Lung Association of Virginia board of directors.

Lung association officials said 414 active TB cases were reported in the metropolitan area last year, including 93 in Montgomery County and 72 in Prince George’s County.

The number of cases in Virginia decreased for the first time in four years. The state reported 329 cases in 2004, down from 332 in 2003.

More than half of the cases reported in 2004 were in Northern Virginia, which had 168 cases.

“I think we can cautiously say that the TB epidemic is under control in Virginia, but we can’t let our guard down. There is more work to be done,” Dr. McDaniel said.

About 92 percent of those infected in Northern Virginia were born in another country and have been in the United States for less than five years.

Tuberculosis is a communicable disease that usually attacks the lungs and is passed from person to person through the air. Its symptoms include chest pain, weight loss, fever, fatigue and coughing that lasts longer than two weeks.

The lung association said 14,511 cases of tuberculosis were reported in the United States in 2004. The disease affects more than 8 million people worldwide and kills more than 2 million people each year.

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