World TB Day: Tuberculosis in Chicago

Posted: 3/25/2010

As we reflect on World TB Day, March 24, 2010, we have much to address to end the worldwide tuberculosis epidemic. The prevalence of TB has decreased in the United States, but the disease is becoming harder to identify and to treat.

The 2009 TB rate was 3.8 cases per 100,000 people in the U.S., representing the greatest single-year decrease ever recorded (11.4% decrease compared with 2008). Furthermore, the total of 11,540 U.S. cases of TB represented the lowest recorded rate of cases since national TB surveillance began in 1953.

Despite the decreasing number of cases, the complexities of each case have grown. Factors such as homelessness, substance abuse and drug resistant strains of tuberculosis have made TB more difficult to identify and treat. In 2009, Chicago reported 202 cases of TB, a slight decrease from the 214 cases reported in 2008. The city?s success in combatting TB is linked to a strategy that includes improved communication among the front line health care providers through cohort reviews, monthly case conferences and tailored trainings for communicable disease control investigators, directly observed therapy workers and TB nurses in local communities. These group activities educate TB control staff and increase their ability to assess changes in the profile of people who have TB.

To address key patterns and disparities in TB cases, Chicago Department of Public Health partners with Respiratory Health Association and other community based organizations such as Heartland Health Alliance, Lawndale Christian Health Center and Metropolitan Chicago Tuberculosis Coalition to help ensure completion of therapy and advance TB elimination efforts.

Raising awareness and connecting people with TB to a stable medical care provider are essential if we are to eradicate TB in Chicago.

To schedule or determine if you should receive a TB skin test at a local clinic, contact the Chicago Department of Public Health at (312) 746-5380. For more information about TB, contact Metropolitan Chicago Tuberculosis Coalition of Respiratory Health Association at (312) 628-0252 or

Judith Beison
Director, TB Initiatives
Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago