World TB Day is recognized annually on March 24 to commemorate the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB). World TB Day is a day to educate the public about the impact of TB around the world. To raise awareness of TB risk factors, testing procedures, and treatment options in the United States, CDC has established the Think. Test. Treat TB health education campaign. The campaign overview slide deck can be viewed here.
Tuberculosis Hides in Plain Sight
TB is one of the world’s leading infectious disease killers. The bacteria responsible for causing TB can live in the body for years without symptoms. This is called inactive TB or latent TB infection. It is estimated that up to 13 million people in the United States live with inactive TB, and many don’t know it.
Without treatment, inactive TB can become active TB disease at any time and make you sick. 1 in 10 people with untreated inactive TB will get sick with active TB disease, which can be deadly and infect others through the air.
Anyone can get TB, but you have a higher risk for TB if you:
- recently spent time with someone who has active TB disease
- were born in or who frequently travel to countries where TB disease is common, including those in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
- work or live in places with high risk for TB transmission, such as hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and nursing homes
- live or used to live in large group settings where TB is more common, such as homeless shelters, prisons, or jails
The good news is that simple testing can determine if you have inactive TB, and there are several short and convenient treatment options that can protect you from getting sick. Public and private healthcare plans may cover the costs of testing and treatment for TB infection. Starting a conversation with your doctor is the first step to protecting your family, friends, and community from this highly contagious disease.
Resources to Guide Patient-Provider Conversations
The online Think. Test. Treat TB resource hub is a one-stop shop for resources to help inform and guide conversations between patients and providers, as well as additional assets to communicate around latent TB infection for partners. In addition to this online resource hub, the Campaign Resource Overview provides a list of materials available for download and print. Materials are available free of charge for order via CDC-Info On Demand Publications (see order instructions here).
Resources to Guide Organizational TB Health Education Efforts
The Think. Test. Treat TB Partner Toolkit also provides free resources in English and Vietnamese, including TB messages, digital and print resources, social media content, patient and provider education materials, and other materials for healthcare providers and partners to support TB communication, testing, and treatment efforts.