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TB making a resurgence.

The emergence of a new and deadlier form of tuberculosis (TB) has alerted medical officials that the once controllable disease is making a startling comeback in the United States. New resilient strains of "multiple-drug resistant TB" have shown up in AIDS patients in cities such as Miami and San Francisco and have caused at least 14 deaths in the New York State prison system. TB cases have risen nationwide, especially among African-Americans and Hispanics, and the Health Department and the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are working to avoid an epidemic.

According to the CDC, tuberculosis cases in the United States decreased from 84,304 in 1953 to 22,255 in 1984. Since then however, that downward trend has reversed, showing its biggest gains from 1988 to 1990 when cases of tuberculosis jumped from 22,436 to 25,701.

An estimated 10 million Americans are infected with TB, but it is only spread by the very small number who have active tuberculosis. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that usually lodges in lungs, causes the infectious disease. TB is characterized by vigorous coughing and congestion in the lungs, and is spread when the infected person coughs or sneezes. There is a 95% cure rate for regular TB. Multiple-drug resistant TB has about a 60% recovery rate.

Donald Kopanoff, the CDC's associate director, Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, says that despite efforts to prevent it, most new TB cases are among poor minorities. He says from 1985 to 1989, TB cases rose 19% among blacks and Hispanics and decreased 10% among whites. "In 1989, roughly 67% of the active cases occurred in racial and ethnic minorities," says CDC's Kopanoff. "Now, 1990 figures show it has increased to 69%."

Dr. Willane Krell, director of Pulmonary Diagnostic Services at Harper Hospital in Detroit, says the high rate of drug abuse, the lack of adequate health care and poor nutrition have made TB a danger in the nation's inner cities.
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Title Annotation:tuberculosis
Author:Coleman, Trevor W.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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