April 2, 2002
Mississippi's TB case rate has fallen below the national average for the first time since 1969, according to state Department of Health statistics. The 2001 TB rate of 5.4 cases per 100,000 population also showed an 11 percent drop from the previous year, State Health Officer Ed Thompson said Thursday. "There's not many health indicators where Mississippi is at or below the average in something bad, but here's one," Thompson said. The nation's TB rate for 2001 is 5.6 per 100,000, 2 percent lower than the previous year, according to the CDC.
Michael Iademarco, associate director for science in the CDC's Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, called Mississippi's decline "a laudable accomplishment. Mississippi is among other states in the Southeast that carry a large burden of TB cases." Provisional estimates show about half the nation's TB cases in 2001 were among people born in other countries, Iademarco said. "TB is endemic in the rest of the world," he said. "As we do a good job of controlling TB here, we have to focus on rates in people born outside the US."
The number of cases in Mississippi has gradually declined since the early 1980s, when the state ranked second highest in the nation, Thompson said. "The problem is TB is not eliminated, and if we get complacent... then it will go back up. That's hard to do when you only have a hundred or two [hundred] cases a year and you can't get people excited about funding it because they don't know anybody's who's had TB lately," said Thompson.