Tuberculosis case. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

San Diego County’s Tuberculosis Elimination Initiative was selected as a 2021 TB Elimination Champion by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was announced Tuesday.

The local TB Elimination Initiative was one of 19 organizations or individuals recognized by the CDC throughout the United States.

“This is a great recognition and a great example of what can be accomplished when public and private entities work together to fight diseases such as tuberculosis,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “This is a well-deserved recognition for all the staff in the county’s Tuberculosis Control Program.”

San Diego County reported 192 new active tuberculosis cases in 2020, a 20% decrease from the year prior. TB usually affects the lungs and spreads through the air when a person sick with TB coughs. Not everyone infected with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria becomes sick.

The CDC U.S. TB Elimination Champions project recognizes organizations and individuals making meaningful contributions to end TB in their communities, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative is being recognized for the region’s efforts to establish public-private partnerships building a TB elimination framework that serves the county’s diverse population. It involves multiple sectors and communities impacted by TB.

“Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders throughout the county collaborated with us to develop key recommendations and plan for implementation,” said Dr. Ankita S. Kadakia, chief medical director for Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health at the County Health and Human Services Agency. “The county has also expanded access to its TB prevention programs through telehealth and is evaluating opportunities to leverage existing vaccination infrastructure to provide education and testing for people at highest risk for TB and latent TB infection.”

Active tuberculosis has a mortality rate of 10%, with children under 5 at highest risk for severe complications. Around 175,000 San Diegans have latent tuberculosis, which can progress to the active disease, the HHSA said.

–City News Service

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