March 20, 2015

Press Release # 012-15
Friday, March 20, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Veronica Lewin/Levi Fishman:

Health Department Reports Historic Low in New York City Tuberculosis Cases

TB incidence decreased 10 percent from 2013 to 2014

To help spread awareness about TB, the Health Department will join other organizations for the third annual New York City World TB Day Walk on Saturday, March 21

In advance of World TB Day on March 24, the Health Department today released data showing the number of TB cases in NYC reached a new, historic low of 585 cases in 2014, and TB incidence decreased 10 percent to a rate of 7.2 cases per 100,000 people. TB continues to disproportionately affect foreign-born New Yorkers, with 85 percent of total TB cases among individuals born outside the United States. China was the most common country of birth for TB cases in 2014, exceeding the number of cases born in the United States. The Health Department also released a new report exploring this disparate burden of TB among China-born New Yorkers.

“The 10 percent decline in the number of TB cases from a year ago is promising, but more can be done to reduce the number of cases in New York City,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Though TB is treatable and curable, the disease disproportionally impacts certain populations in New York City. To address this, we are collaborating with community-based organizations, elected officials, and other agencies to improve TB prevention and control in the areas with the highest rates. We also encourage healthcare providers to test and treat people who are at risk, and New Yorkers who may be at an increased risk are advised to speak with a medical provider.”

The Health Department is one of the leading health care providers of TB services in NYC. Health care practitioners at the four chest centers around the city perform an array of medical/clinical services, and the Health Department also offers expert medical consultation for patients being treated by other providers. In 2014, the Health Department expanded the use of video conferencing technology to monitor treatment of TB patients, allowing for a more efficient and less intrusive process for observing patients while they ingest their medication. Treatment for TB can be long, generally requiring ingestion of four antibiotics for six to nine months and ideally while supervised by a community health worker. The Health Department is also offering a new, once-weekly, regimen for TB infection, which patients can complete in 12 weeks instead of the previous nine months daily regimen. Patients should discuss their eligibility for the once-weekly regimen with their physician or medical provider.

Although there have been great strides in reducing TB, New York City has the highest number of TB cases of any city in the nation and more than twice the 2014 national rate of 3.0 per 100,000. According to the 2014 data, Queens continued to have the highest burden of TB in 2014 with 36 percent of the city’s cases, at a rate of 9.2 per 100,000. The neighborhood with the highest rate of TB is Sunset Park in Brooklyn, with a rate of 23.1 per 100,000, which is more than three times the citywide rate. The Health Department continues to work with healthcare providers and communities to promote TB screening as well as to introduce new technology for more efficient and effective treatment regimens.

World TB Day Events

On Friday, March 20th, the Health Department will host its annual World TB Day conference for healthcare providers and community leaders titled, A Patient-Centered Approach to TB Control: Current Perspectives and Future Visions. Health Department staff and invited TB experts will present the latest data on TB in New York City and highlight ways in which healthcare providers and the Health Department can work together to improve services for high-risk populations affected by TB. CME/CNE credits will be offered for the event.

To help spread awareness about TB, this Saturday, March 21st, the Health Department will join other organizations for the third annual New York City World TB Day Walk. The walk starts at 10:30 am and travels from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village to Allen Street on the Lower East Side. Participants will then convene at Projective Space on 72 Allen Street to learn from TB experts and patient advocates. For more information, visit follow @tbwalknyc on Twitter.

Every year on World TB Day the Health Department releases the 2014 Annual Summary report .

About Tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a serious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. With proper care and treatment, TB can be prevented and cured. There is a difference between TB infection and active TB disease. TB infection means that TB bacteria are living in the body but not causing any symptoms. People with TB infection do not feel sick and cannot spread the disease. Symptoms of TB disease may include weight loss, a persistent cough lasting longer than three weeks, chest pain, coughing up blood or phlegm, loss of appetite, chills, fever or night sweats. TB disease is spread from person to person through the air, and usually affects the lungs. 

When a person who is sick with TB coughs, sneezes, or sings, they put TB germs in the air. Other people may breathe in the TB germs, and some may become sick. People usually get TB germs in their bodies only when they spend a long time around someone who is sick with TB — for example, if they live or work with someone with TB. Brief contact with people who are sick with TB (such as on trains or buses) is unlikely to give a person TB. TB is not spread by shaking hands, sharing food or through sexual activity. Most people do not know they have TB until they become sick. That is why it is a good idea for people at high risk for TB to get tested.

Some people who are at higher risk for getting TB and should be assessed for TB include:

People who have spent a long time around people with active TB

  • Family members, friends and co-workers of people with active TB 
  • People who have recently arrived in the U.S. from countries with high rates of TB 
  • People who have worked or stayed in hospitals, jails/prisons, homeless shelters or nursing homes

People with certain medical conditions

  • People with weak immune systems, especially those with HIV infection, or very young children 
  • People with diabetes, chronic kidney failure, some cancers or other medical conditions 
  • People who are injection drug users 
  • People who have received an organ transplant 
  • People who take certain medicines that suppress the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer, steroids, or TNF-alpha blockers 
  • People who have a chest X-ray with evidence of old TB disease 

The Health Department offers free, confidential TB testing for those at risk, and state-of-the-art TB treatment. Treatment is available across the city, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay..

For more information, call 311 or search “TB” at