Although considerable optimism regarding tuberculosis has been generated in the public mind as the result of the introduction of new chemotherapeutic agents and the rapidly falling death rate, physicians close to the tuberculosis problem believe that the optimistic outlook may not be entirely warranted. While it is true that the death rate is falling rapidly and the incidence (new cases of tuberculosis occurring annually) is falling slowly, there is good reason to believe that the prevalence (total number of cases of tuberculosis in the community) may actually be increasing.
One reason for the increasing prevalence of tuberculosis lies in the survival rate of numerous patients currently treated, as compared with the prechemotherapeutic era. Prior to 1946, most large institutions dealing with tuberculosis reported an annual death rate of about 30% of the number of yearly admissions. At present, the death rate is under 10% in nearly all large institutions and
PREVALENCE OF TUBERCULOSIS IN LARGE CITIES. JAMA. 1955;157(6):512. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02950230026013