Tue, Jul 26, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Tuberculosis rates decline in Taipei, as syphilis takes lead

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei Department of Health yesterday said that tuberculosis has fallen from being the most common to the second-most common notifiable communicable disease in Taipei, following syphilis.

The department’s Division for Disease Control and Prevention Director Chen Shao-ching (陳少卿) said tuberculosis is the most common notifiable communicable diseases in the nation, and patients must take medication for at least six to nine months to recover.

As some patients have difficulty taking their medication regularly, and sending observers to patients’ homes to check up on them has not been very effective, Chen said the department in 2013 started implementing a Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) program through remote video call.

Chen said that the DOTS program allows specially trained observers to contact patients through a video call every day to monitor whether they have properly taken medication, and that the general DOTS rate in the city has increased from 46.2 percent in 2013 to 89.9 percent in May.

Taipei Department of Health Commissioner Huang Shih-chieh (黃世傑) said the prevalence of tuberculosis in the city was 30.5 per 100,000 people last year, but the Centers for Disease Control has set a goal of 23 per 100,000 by 2025 and the WHO set a goal of 10 per 100,000 population by 2035, so the department is working to meet those goals.

Chen said latent tuberculosis infection means the carrier has not yet showen any symptoms and cannot transmit the disease to other people, but between 5 and 10 percent might develop active tuberculosis and become infectious, so it is important to diagnose latent tuberculosis infection and receive proper treatment as soon as possible.

In addition to using chest X-rays or tuberculin skin tests to screen for tuberculosis infection, she said the department has adopted interferon-gamma release assays for the diagnosis of latent and active tuberculosis this year, and will enhance disease prevention and detection, especially at next year’s Taipei Universiade.

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