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NEWS // February 17, 2020

The County of San Diego Celebrates World TB Day with Launch of TB Elimination Initiative

Marti Brentnall, Community Health Program Specialist, Health & Human Services Agency

World TB Day takes place on March 24th each year to commemorate the day Dr. Robert Koch discovered the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.  For the third year in a row, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency TB Control and Refugee Health Branch will host a World TB Day reception in line with the national theme, “It’s TIME,” to honor both the survivors of this disease and the people that dedicated their careers to its elimination.

To raise awareness about the impact and challenges of TB, the County will mark World TB Day by illuminating the County Administration Center and its adjacent parking structure in red as part of the “Light Up the World in Red” campaign.  They’ll be doing so alongside other major landmarks across the world, including Los Angeles’ International Airport and its Union Station and San Francisco City Hall.

Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, is a bacterium that usually attacks the lungs, but can also attack other parts of the body such as the kidney, spine, or brain. Tuberculosis bacteria are spread through the air from one person to another, when a person infected with the disease in their lungs or throat coughs, speaks, or even sings.

In San Diego County, there are an estimated 170,000 individuals infected with latent TB infection (LTBI), a dormant form of TB. When left untreated, LTBI can progress to active TB disease. In 2019, San Diego County reported 265 reported new active cases. Individuals with HIV, diabetes, or another condition that causes a weakened immune system are at greater risk for developing active TB disease.

TB Elimination Initiative

The Advisory and Steering committees of the TB Elimination Initiative met for the first time on January 16, 2020. This initial step supports the goal to reduce the occurrence of active TB cases to less than 1 case per million by the year 2040.

Over the next year, the Initiative, a public-private partnership, will be responsible for developing proposed recommendations and an eventual plan to present to the County Board of Supervisors. If approved, these efforts will illuminate important “next steps” to work towards this disease’s ideal destination – complete elimination.

It’s TIME to eliminate TB. Find time on March 24 to “think TB” and consider participating in our community efforts.