Newsroom > DHHS News Release


March 21, 2008

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or


Tuberculosis Cases Declining in State

March 24 is World TB Day

Lincoln—The number of cases of tuberculosis (TB) continues to decline in Nebraska for the third year in a row, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Four years ago, there were 39 new active cases, compared to 25 last year. Over the last five years, 152 active cases of TB have been reported. Nebraska ranks 40 th in the nation for TB.

"TB is a very old disease that is still with us," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer. "The good news is that most cases can still be treated with the usual antibiotics."

Antibiotics are very effective in treating the disease. However, to be effective, they may need to be taken for six to 12 months.

The Nebraska Tuberculosis Control Program provides surveillance, case management services, laboratory services, medical consultation and education. In 2007, the program provided medication for over 1,000 Nebraska residents with non-active tuberculosis.

The program contracts with local health departments to provide care and follow-up for persons with active disease.

March 24 is World TB Day because on March 24, 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacterium that causes TB. This achievement was the first step toward developing tools to control the disease.

While here in the United States great progress has been made in addressing this disease, tuberculosis remains one of the world’s great public health threats. Globally, one in three people is infected with TB, and almost two million people die of TB every year.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that usually infect the lungs. When someone with tuberculosis of the lungs coughs or sneezes, TB germs can get into the air and be transmitted to other people. Symptoms of the disease include feeling weak or sick, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. Individuals with TB of the lungs may have coughing and chest pain.

 Anyone can get TB but people who are especially at risk are members of the same household. The greater the degree of personal contact, the greater the risk of acquiring the disease. Also, persons who have health problems that weaken their immune systems, such as HIV and cancer, are at greater risk.

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