March 21, 2002
Even as the number of new TB cases in New York City fell to a record low last year, the city's infection rate remains the highest in the nation, and the disease continues to spread among recent immigrants, city officials said yesterday. To combat the disease, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden yesterday unveiled a newly renovated TB chest center in Corona, the neighborhood with the highest reported TB rate in the city.
Frieden said there were 1,261 new TB cases in the city in 2001, marking a record low, and a citywide decrease for the ninth straight year. The commissioner said the previous low for TB cases in the city was in 1978 when there were 1,302 cases. In 1999, when TB peaked in the city, the majority of cases were among US-born persons, and only 18 percent of the new TB cases were among immigrants, Frieden said. Although TB has been brought under control for New Yorkers born in the United States, the number of cases among immigrants has increased. Preliminary data for last year found that about 64 percent of new cases were among immigrants, mainly from China and Ecuador.
The $4.4 million renovation at the Corona chest clinic includes new technology where air is filtered continuously and never recirculated to prevent transmitting the disease. "The good news is this building will be put to great use," the mayor said. "The sad news is we still have a TB problem we can't walk away from."