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Press Release

County Cites New Issues to Focus on in Recognition of Stop TB Day

March 20, 2006

Cases of Tuberculosis (TB) in Contra Costa County declined for a second straight year in 2005, although the number of foreign-born TB patients remains consistent and there was an increase in patients with multi-drug-resistant TB.

These are the findings reported in Contra Costa Health Services' annual Tuberculosis Epidemiology Report, released this week in recognition of World Stop TB Day, March 24. The three-page report is available online at the website for Contra Costa Health Services.

Fifty-eight residents of Contra Costa were diagnosed with TB in 2005, a decline of 9% from 2004's 64 cases and 50% since 1996 (117 cases). This continued decline - though interrupted briefly by increases in 2001 and 2003 - is due largely to work on controlling the disease among U.S.-born residents of Richmond and San Pablo.

"We have made great strides in West County, where the large majority of our TB patients lived in recent years. Unfortunately this progress has not extended to the foreign-born residents of the county," said Charles M. Crane, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Contra Costa Health Services' Tuberculosis Program.

Forty-one foreign-born residents of Contra Costa contracted TB in 2005, which is fairly consistent with totals for each of the past seven years.

Alternatively, cases for African American residents declined for the sixth time in the last nine years, down to 9 cases last year after recording 55 cases as recently as 1996. Since 1996, two-thirds of the U.S.-born TB patients in Contra Costa have been African American.

Crane said it is essential that new immigrants to the United States get a skin test for TB to control outbreaks and diagnose the disease early enough for effective treatment.

"Every year, we have fatalities from this disease and they are always related to late diagnosis, so the need for new arrivals to have skin tests remains critical for early diagnosis and treatment," said Crane.

A relatively new development in TB is a strain that is resistant to INH and Rifampin, the two most effective drugs in treating the disease. Four such drug-resistant cases were diagnosed in Contra Costa in 2005, and Crane said these cases require the most medical resources and expensive medication to treat.

Fortunately, he said, all four patients are responding to treatment offered with the assistance of MDR Consultation Service, a joint program of the TB Control Branch of the California Department of Health Services and the Francis J. Curry National TB Center.

For more information about TB in Contra Costa, contact Sirlura Taylor, Tuberculosis Program Supervisor, at or 925-313-6742.

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Press Contact
  • Dr. Charles Crane
  • 925-313-6746