stethoscope.jpgToday is World TB Day, and San Francisco is celebrating by announcing that there were only 98 new cases of tuberculosis in the city in 2010, the smallest annual number ever recorded in the city’s history.

World TB Day, organized by the World Health Organization, is meant to create awareness of the bacterial lung disease caused by TB bacilli, which infects one-third of the world’s population.

One in every 10 of those people will become sick with active TB at some point in life. The illness is marked by a weeks-long cough, fever, and weight loss, and kills nearly 2 million people annually.

San Francisco officials are marking World TB Day this morning at the Curry Senior Center in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The center is named after Dr. Francis J. Curry, a local pioneer of TB research.

During the 1960s, Curry was one of the first doctors to focus on providing “patient-centered care,” in which clinic locations and operating hours were geared toward the patient, rather than the staff, city officials said.

He also conducted a study documenting the effect of a single anti-tuberculosis drug in preventing the disease in San Francisco school children.

At this morning’s event, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the center at 315 Turk St., speakers will address new strategies to address TB and discuss how San Francisco arrived at its historic low number of cases.

Santa Clara County is also holding a World TB Day event, where officials will discuss how to lower the county’s rate of infection. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area has the highest case rate of any metropolitan area in the U.S., according to county officials.

The event is being held at El Camino Hospital, which has launched a Chinese Health Initiative to raise awareness of health issues in the area’s growing Chinese population.
As part of the initiative, officials will provide information to patients and the community to make them more aware of their risk for TB.

“TB is still a serious problem in Santa Clara County,” Dr. Julie Higashi, deputy health officer for Santa Clara County, said in a statement.

“We can eliminate TB if we work together to find and treat people with TB and focus on prevention efforts,” Higashi said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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