March 24, 2006
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
Phone: (973) 972-3000
UMDNJ Renames TB Center To Commemorate
Global Commitment to Eliminate Disease
Friday, March 24, is World Tuberculosis Day
NEWARK—Recent global attention to the rising rate of worldwide cases of tuberculosis, multi-drug resistant TB and TB compounded by the AIDS virus has compelled experts at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to rename and rededicate its center’s commitment to eradicating the disease worldwide.
Formerly known as the New Jersey Medical School National Tuberculosis Center at UMDNJ, the center has been renamed the Global Tuberculosis Institute at UMDNJ, says Dr. Lee B. Reichman, executive director of the institute. It originally was created as a joint effort between UMDNJ and the state Department of Health in 1993 to abate a TB resurgence first noted about 20 years ago. The Global TB Institute at UMDNJ was one of three model prevention-control centers designated by the federal government in 1992 to combat the backlash of TB in the U.S.
The TB center was renamed to rededicate its commitment to help eliminate the deadly disease in the northeast portion of the U.S. TB remains prominent in many nations and has continued to resurface in the United States. The disease remains at near epidemic proportions in countries that include most of Africa, India, Indonesia and China, Dr. Reichman noted. March 24 has been designated as World Tuberculosis Day.
"Tuberculosis is an international disease that kills two million people globally each year and there are nine million new cases reported worldwide each year," Dr. Reichman said, quoting statistics provided by the World Health Organization. "After an unprecedented resurgence caused by neglect of public health priorities, TB rates declined dramatically in the 1990's in the U.S., but there has been only a slight decrease in the number of reported cases in the U.S. in the past few years, and several states have shown an increase."
"In New Jersey," Dr. Reichman said, "the rate did not decline for the first time in 12 years."
Tuberculosis, once the leading cause of death in the United States, is a contagious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacterium typically attacks the lungs, although it can appear in any part of the body. People infected with TB usually do not feel sick, don’t have symptoms and are not contagious. If they develop the tuberculosis disease, they then become ill and contagious.
Tuberculosis is treated with antibiotics for a minimum of six months and is 100 percent curable. If it isn't treated aggressively with medications, it is easily passed on to others publicly, especially in closed quarters.
Last year, there were 485 reported TB cases in the Garden State, up from 482 in 2004, breaking a 12-year trend of declining numbers in New Jersey. The TB case rate per 100,000 of population in New Jersey increased from 5.5 in 2004 to 5.6 in 2005. Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Bergen and Passaic counties reported the highest number of cases in the state, according to statistics provided by the Department of Health. The most substantial increases were observed in Camden, Burlington, Monmouth, Union and Passaic counties.