The number of tuberculosis cases has gone up for the first time in 23 years but because of our population growth, the rate of infection has stayed the same, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials said that means the U.S. is not making any progress on eliminating tuberculosis.
“Tuberculosis is a disease of the past, so you know it's something you hear about from movies like Moulin Rouge. Satine dies from consumption which is tuberculosis. But…it’s not something, certainly in the United States, we should still be dealing with,” said Dr. Michael Chang with the Infectious Disease Department of Children's Memorial Hermann & UT Health.
The disease is highly contagious and can be caught by breathing in the air that an infected person has contaminated.
“Fever that can last for many weeks, the fever can be low grade, you often will see significant coughing, and over time you might develop cough with blood and weight loss,” said Dr. Chang.
There were 157 more cases nationwide in 2015 than in 2014. 9,563 cases were reported in 2015 while 9,406 cases were reported in 2014 nationwide.
The Houston Health Department told Fox 26 that tuberculosis is also on the rise locally, with 227 cases reported last year. Tuberculosis in Texas makes up nearly 14% of the total cases in the U.S.
But while the numbers have gone up, the rate of incidence hasn't changed much. Part of the reason for that is because of the increase in our population.
“Part of the reason we're seeing a small increase in the cases of total tuberculosis in the us and more importantly, the rate hasn’t changed is that were still having a lot of problems combating substance abuse, homelessness, prison population in the United States,” said Dr. Chang.
Tuberculosis is diagnosed heavily with immigrants who come from countries with high tuberculosis rates as well as in our homeless, who may live in crowded quarters and have little access to healthcare.
Advocates say more funding is needed to eliminate tuberculosis in the United States.
Here in Houston, doctors say they have been seeing increasingly drug-resistant tuberculosis, which can be harder to treat and can require more expensive antibiotics.
Doctors recommend the best way to combat tuberculosis is prevention, detection and early treatment.