Press Release

March 24, 2009


State Public Health Director Announces Record Low in Illinois for New Tuberculosis Cases

World TB Day proclaimed in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. In recognition of World Tuberculosis Day, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health announced today a record low for the number of new tuberculosis cases in Illinois. Illinois is joining in the World Tuberculosis Day global campaign, “I Am Stopping TB” and Governor Pat Quinn has issued a proclamation declaring March 24, 2009 as World TB Day in Illinois to raise awareness that the fight against tuberculosis is not over.

“Tuberculosis is not a disease many of us think about anymore thanks to the wonderful advances in medicine and the hard work of public health staff,” said Dr. Arnold. “But TB is still impacting hundreds of people annually in Illinois and millions of people worldwide. I urge all citizens to increase their awareness and understanding 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 by tiny airborne particles of bacteria. While it can affect any part of the body, such as the brain, kidneys or spine, tuberculosis usually affects the lungs. General symptoms 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.

In 2008, 469 cases of active tuberculosis were reported in Illinois, a decrease from 521 cases reported in 2007. However, reports show Illinois still ranks sixth for the highest number of tuberculosis cases in the nation.

Illinois is again following the national trend in that the majority of TB cases are among individuals who were born in foreign countries where TB is common, such as Mexico, India and the Philippines. In 2008, 60 percent of tuberculosis cases in Illinois were foreign-born, up from 59 percent the previous year.

Tuberculosis is usually curable, but 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.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) focuses on finding tuberculosis cases and making sure they are treated promptly and completely. IDPH also looks for those who have had close contact and been exposed to someone with tuberculosis for 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 or go to the CDC Web site at

The Governor’s Proclamation follows:

WHEREAS, 469 cases of active tuberculosis disease were reported in Illinois in 2008 and an estimated 650,000 Illinoisans are infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB); and
WHEREAS, Illinois reports the sixth highest number of tuberculosis cases of any state in the nation; and
WHEREAS, there is a disproportionate burden of TB in minorities and persons born outside the United States; and
WHEREAS, each year thousands of household members, health care employees and others who share the air of infectious tuberculosis patients are at risk of becoming infected with the tuberculosis bacterium and progressing to active disease; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Department of Public Health is working to promote prompt diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis cases, implementation of strategies to prevent tuberculosis in children, improved working relationships between public health providers and private providers, hospitals, long term care facilities, correctional facilities, managed care organizations and others, and decreased tuberculosis transmission in health care facilities and community settings; and
WHEREAS, maintaining control of TB in Illinois requires strengthening current TB control and prevention systems, and progress toward the elimination of TB cannot occur without mobilizing support and engaging in global TB prevention and control; and
WHEREAS, this year's World Tuberculosis Day local theme of "CSI TB: Collaboration to Stop Infection," national theme of "Partnerships for TB Elimination," and global theme of "I am stopping TB" recognize that tuberculosis prevention and control is possible, that every individual can have a role in stopping TB, and that Illinois is committed to working toward the elimination of tuberculosis:
THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim March 24, 2009, as WORLD TB DAY in Illinois, and urge all citizens to increase their awareness and understanding of tuberculosis infection and disease and to join the global effort to stop the spread of this disease.




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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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