CDC advises more tuberculosis testing as cases rise in the U.S., including Arizona

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Tuberculosis cases in the country have risen, including parts of Arizona.
Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 8:57 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that more people should get tested for tuberculosis as it sees cases increase across the country. According to the CDC’s latest report, up to 13 million people could have latent tuberculosis, and some Arizona counties are hotspots.

Counties currently seeing an increase in cases are Apache, Graham, Santa Cruz, Pinal, and Yuma County, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Dr. Jesse Bracamonte, a family physician at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said they’re still figuring out why those counties are seeing more cases. However, he said the combination of more people traveling and moving to Arizona could be a factor and said you should get screened for TB if you recently arrived from certain countries.

“Particularly if you’re from one of the countries or one of the areas such as Latin America and Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caribbean, and Africa and Asia,” Dr. Bracamonte said. “If you’re from those areas, maybe talk to your clinician about getting screened — certainly, if you have symptoms, that’s a different aspect — but getting screened is a simple test that you can do to get screened for tuberculosis.”

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that infects the lungs and can be very infectious when active. According to the CDC’s report, more people are developing latent TB, which means people are contracting the germ, but it’s not active or infectious yet.

TB is an airborne disease and has the potential to spread quickly if not treated. Therefore, as the CDC sees cases increase nationwide, it’s advising folks and their families to get tested the next time they’re at the doctor’s office.

Dr. Bracamonte said this increase should not alarm or scare anyone. After billions of people worldwide were locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said a lot of viruses are circulating now, but there’s no need to panic. He said this should be taken as helpful information to protect yourself and others around you by getting tested.

“One is the Mantoux test, better known as the PPD (purified protein derivative), where they put it under the skin,” he said. “and it’s a simple, non-painful test you can get tested and returned in 48 to 72 hours. Another test is called the Interferon-Gamma Release Assay blood test — it is very and highly accurate as well. It usually results in 24 hours but sometimes a bit more costly as a lab test.”

Although not contagious, Dr. Bracamonte said latent TB is tricky because you can have it and not feel sick. However, treatment is required in order for it not to become active. Symptoms of active TB include:

  • Fever
  • Chills Night
  • Sweats
  • Weight Loss
  • Cough

If you have any of the symptoms, it’s advised to get tested. Latent TB can take 3 to 6 months to treat with antibiotics. Active TB can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months on antibiotics and therapies to completely treat.

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