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U.S. Tuberculosis Cases Decline

March 24, 1999

LANTANA, Fla. (AP) _ Tuberculosis cases in the United States declined in 1998 for a fifth straight year, but doctors who gathered Wednesday on World Tuberculosis Day were reluctant to cheer the apparent success.

``We spend more in the United States on (thinning) hair care treatments than tuberculosis treatment,″ said Ray Collins, superintendent of the A.G. Holley State Hospital, the nation’s last freestanding TB treatment center.

In 1998, 18,371 cases of tuberculosis were reported in the United States, down 7.5 percent from 19,851 cases in 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

Experts gathered at Holley estimated that 3.1 million people worldwide will die from the disease this year. The World Health Organization estimates that about 8 million people worldwide are affected by TB each year.

Tuberculosis cases are growing among foreign-born patients in the United States and many new cases are of multiple drug-resistant strains, said Dr. David Ashkin, a TB researcher and executive director of Holley.

``We’re finding today we have all the drugs and all the tools but we’re still not done,″ he said.

Tuberculosis is a highly infectious, but treatable, lung disease transmitted by airborne bacteria.

World Tuberculosis Day commemorates the anniversary of the day the TB bacteria was discovered 117 years ago.

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