Press Release

March 22, 2012


Record Low Tuberculosis Cases in Illinois – But State Cases Remain Among the Highest in the Nation  

Tuberculosis numbers continue to drop in Illinois, but increasing worldwide

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recognizing March 24, 2012 as World Tuberculosis Day (TB) by embracing the local theme, “TB: Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity” and adopting the global slogan “Stop TB in My Lifetime.” World Tuberculosis Day is a reminder that although the illness is not common in the United States, it is still circulating around the world. Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for the highest number of tuberculosis cases.

“Although Illinois experienced a record low number of new tuberculosis cases during 2011, the increase is cases worldwide can mean more cases here. And many of the new cases are drug-resistant tuberculosis cases, which are harder to overcome” said Dr. Arthur F. Kohrman, acting director for the Illinois Department of Public Health. “I urge all citizens to increase their awareness of tuberculosis and to join the global effort to stop the spread of this disease.”

Tuberculosis is a contagious and potentially life-threatening disease that is transmitted from person to person through the air when a person with active TB coughs or sneezes. While it can affect any part of the body, such as the brain, kidneys or spine, tuberculosis usually affects the lungs. General symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, fever and night sweats. When tuberculosis attacks the lungs, symptoms can include a persistent cough that sometimes produces blood and chest pains.

While tuberculosis is usually curable, a person with the disease must faithfully adhere to prescribed drug therapy for six months or longer. Many patients comply with the strict drug regimen at first, but some stop taking their anti-TB medication after they start to feel better. Failure to follow the therapy for the full length of time prescribed may allow the tuberculosis to return. In some cases, the re-established infection cannot be treated with the usual antibiotics.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is on the rise globally. In some areas of the world, one in four people with tuberculosis becomes ill with a form of the disease that can no longer be treated with standard drugs regimens, a World Health Organization (WHO) report says.

In 2011, 359 cases of active tuberculosis were reported in Illinois, a decrease from 372 cases reported in 2010. The record low number of cases in Illinois can largely be attributed to Directly Observed Therapy, a program to make sure those with TB complete their full medication regimen. Fewer cases of TB is also due to identifying those who have had close and extended contact with someone with TB, and treating appropriate cases for latent tuberculosis infection.

Following the national trend, the majority of TB cases in Illinois are among individuals who were born in foreign countries where TB is common, such as Mexico, India and the Philippines. Many foreign countries have higher TB rates than the United States, which has access to great medical advancements. In 2011, 63 percent of tuberculosis cases in Illinois were among people born in foreign countries.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, working in conjunction with local health departments, focuses on finding tuberculosis cases and making sure people are treated promptly and completely. IDPH also looks for people who have had close contact and been exposed to someone with tuberculosis to ensure treatment if they are infected, although not necessarily sick.

For more information on tuberculosis, log onto the Illinois Department of Public Health Web site at

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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