City reports slight spike in tuberculosis cases

The New York City Health Department reported the 1 percent jump in tuberculosis cases — up to 656 in 2013 compared to 651 in 2012. Credit: BSIP/Getty Images
The New York City Health Department reported the 1 percent jump in tuberculosis cases — up to 656 in 2013 compared to 651 in 2012.
Credit: BSIP/Getty Images

New York City saw a slight increase in the number of tuberculosis cases last year.

The New York City Health Department reported the 1 percent jump in tuberculosis cases — up to 656 in 2013 compared to 651 in 2012. People infected with but not afflicted by tuberculosis rarely show symptoms, which is why the city wants more people to test for the disease.

Relatively speaking, the number isn’t a big jump for the city, keeping the number of cases to about eight for every 100,000 New Yorker. Even so, the city still has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis cases in the country.

The Health Department released numbers showing the highest concentrations of reported tuberculosis come from Sunset Park, West Queens and Flushing — all neighborhoods with growing immigrant communities.

The top five countries of origin among foreign-born persons found to have tuberculosis were China, Philippines, Bangladesh, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

The city also revealed 84 percent of total tuberculosis cases were reported among individuals born outside the United States. Additionally, there were more incidents in patients — almost half in — living in high poverty or in very high poverty areas.

A growing diabetes epidemic and use of immune system weakening medications has lead to higher susceptibility to tuberculosis, health officials said. The small spike can be addressed with testing and treatment, officials said.

“If you come from a country where TB is common and have a medical condition such as diabetes or HIV, or are on medication for inflammatory conditions, ask your provider to test you for TB,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett in a statement.

Confidential and free testing is available through the agency to all residents regardless of immigration status. Similarly, treatment is available regardless of income level.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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