TB cases in New York reach record low, but disease remains a major threat for Chinese, Ecuadoran, Dominican arrivals

1 May 2011 - New York - Tuberculosis (TB) cases have hit a record low in New York, but the disease remains a major threat to people who have recently arrived in the city, the New York Daily News reports.

Of last year's 711 TB patients - the fewest in the city's history - 15% were Chinese, 6% were Ecuadoran, 6% were Dominican, 5% were Mexicans and 4% were Bangladeshi.

In 1992, the height of the city's 21st century TB outbreak, people born in New York accounted for 70% of cases. Now, with overall numbers much lower, 80% of cases stem from those born abroad.

"The TB we are seeing now is driven by a global epidemic," Chrispin Kambili, director of tuberculosis control for the city Health Department, told the Daily News.

Health officials aim to treat TB early, but cases often go undetected. People seeking permanent resident status in the US are screened for TB, but those who enter the US illegally or for school may not get any kind of TB test.

George Alonso, director of tuberculosis surveillance and treatment at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens says that TB cases among immigrants typically surface in the emergency rooms of public hospitals. "The patient doesn't really ever get better until they can't take it anymore and go to the hospital," he said.

The Sunset Park neighbourhood in Brooklyn has the greatest number of TB cases in New York, followed by western Queens.

Read the Daily News article