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March 2, 1994

Failure of Tuberculosis ControlA Prescription for Change

Author Affiliations

From the Infectious Disease Service, Montefiore—Rikers Island Health Service, East Elmhurst, NY, and Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

JAMA. 1994;271(9):708-709. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510330086040

The dramatic increase in tuberculosis (TB) incidence1 is testimony to the failure of the United States to coordinate its medical care provision, disease surveillance, and societal will to consistently provide TB therapy and monitor TB control.2 In this issue of The Journal, Bloch and colleagues3 demonstrate a remarkable shift in the epidemiology of TB in the United States.

In the 1970s, US health officials believed that indigenous TB was coming under control, its ultimate elimination possible with only an occasional case reactivating in the elderly. Transient increases in TB incidence were attributed to immigrants, such as the Indochinese refugees in the mid 1970s4 and Philippine national World War II veterans in Hawaii in the 1990s.5 These foreign cases brought with them the peril of drug resistance as a result of the indiscriminate and inconsistent use of TB medications in the immigrants' countries of origin. Bloch

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