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Tuberculosis cases are surging: What does it mean?

The United States saw a significant increase in tuberculosis (TB) cases in 2023, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting over 9,600 incidents, marking a 16% rise from 2022 and the highest number since 2013. This surge was observed across forty states and Washington, D.C., with California experiencing the highest number of cases nationwide.

Despite this spike, the U.S. continues to maintain one of the lowest TB rates globally. Tuberculosis, a bacterial infection primarily affecting the lungs, can spread through the air from one person to another. However, the majority of cases, about 85%, are attributed to latent infections where individuals were infected years before without spreading the disease.

The CDC emphasizes that while TB is treatable with antibiotics, it remains a leading cause of death worldwide from infectious diseases, underscoring the importance of addressing the recent increase in cases.