The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' (DHH) Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program has received a new ranking that places Louisiana below the national average in tuberculosis cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranking demonstrates the significant progress the program has made over the past five years.
"Tuberculosis is both curable and preventable if treated properly and in a timely fashion. I'm very proud of our TB Control Program for both its successful implementation of new tools that have lowered the morbidity and mortality from tuberculosis in Louisiana and its work toward the ultimate eradication of the disease in our state," says LDH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert.
Though many states experienced increases in their case rates last year, Louisiana's case rate in 2014 was 2.6 per 100,000 (TB cases per 100,000 person population), a 59-percent reduction from the 2010 case rate of 4.4 per 100,000. In 2014, Louisiana moved to 12 percent below the national case rate, and the progress over the past five years has improved Louisiana's ranking among states with the highest TB case rates. In 2010, only eight states had higher case rates than Louisiana. By 2014 that numbered doubled, with 16 states having higher case rates than Louisiana.
"Our TB Control Program staff, nurses and infectious disease investigators across the state have worked hard and been innovative in order to make significant progress on the behalf of Louisiana's residents. Our public health scientists, medical experts and field staff continue to work closely with local communities to keep them as healthy and safe as possible, and we're glad to see such progress with tuberculosis reduction," says J.T. Lane, LDH Assistant Secretary for Public Health.
The new ranking comes on the heels of World TB Day, which is recognized each year on March 24. This annual event provides the opportunity to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions to support TB-control efforts. Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease characterized by the growth of tubercles and mainly affects the lungs. LDH's TB Control Program has reduced the tuberculosis morbidity to below the national case rate for the first time since 2000.
The Office of Public Health staff treats all diagnosed cases of TB to prevent transmission and the development of TB disease in TB infected individuals. Until 2010, the tool used to diagnose infection was Mantoux PPD, which was developed in 1907, while the medication used to treat TB infection (INH) was developed in 1952. Despite using these antiquated tools as effectively as possible, Louisiana was not able to reduce the TB case rate below the national case rate.
In 2010, the TB Control Program adopted two new tools: T-SPOT.TB, a blood assay developed to improve the diagnosis of TB infection, and 3HRp, a short-course therapy used to prevent the development of TB disease. "The complete and continuous application of these two new tools in high risk groups will accelerate Louisiana toward eliminating tuberculosis as a public health threat," says LDH TB Control Program Director Charles DeGraw.
The adoption of these new tools has also reduced the percentage of TB cases with HIV infection. From 1993 to 2010, the average percentage of TB cases with HIV in Louisiana was 10 percent. The percentage of TB cases with HIV was reduced to 4.1 percent in 2014, a 59-percent total reduction in five years. The national percentage of TB cases with HIV was 6.0 in 2010 and 6.5 in 2014.
For more information on the TB Control Program, contact Charles DeGraw at (504)568-5015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.