Epidemiology and Risk Factors

In many parts of the world, TB is one of the most common causes of fatal respiratory infection; 80% of cases come from 22 high-burden nations, and one-third occur in India alone.

WHO (2005) estimated 8.8 million new TB cases worldwide in 2003, including 674,000 HIV-infected patients, with 1.7 million deaths attributed to TB. TB cases are falling or stable in most regions but increasing in Africa. In North America, TB rates rose during the 1980s, but since 1992, TB rates have been in decline.

Children, elderly people, and immunocompromised patients are especially vulnerable. In the United States, 22% of TB cases occur in older adults, with the highest rates in elderly residents of long-term care facilities (Thrupp et al., 2004). The most important risk factor for developing TB is having household or other close contact with a patient who has active TB.

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