The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) nationwide is steadily declining, but there were still 12,300 people who were carriers of the disease last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday at a press conference to raise public awareness of TB.
Compared with 2005, the incidence of active TB dropped 27 percent last year, with 53 cases per 100,000 people, CDC Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) said.
“Our goal is to reach 30 or 40 per 100,000 people, and this relies on both control by the health authority and public action,” he said.
Chiang Chen-yuan (江振源), director of the department of lung health at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said the control measures undertaken by the government were effective and that the National Health Insurance system had helped curb the spread and lower the rate of TB infection in the nation.
“It has ensured people’s rights to receive appropriate and timely medical treatment,” Chiang said.
“But we can further set our goal at zero incidence,” he said.
“The key is to recognize the early symptoms of TB for possible early treatment and maintain a healthy immune system as a preventive measure, because it is possible to have latent TB infection without being sick if the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop the infection from growing. Elderly people and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes are susceptible to the infection for this reason,” he added.
The CDC is promoting a seven-point scale for tuberculosis self-checks, with coughing up phlegm and coughing for two consecutive weeks each worth two points, while chest pain, loss of appetite and weight loss each counted as one point.
When a person has accumulated more than five points according to the chart, they may be at risk of having infectious TB and should visit a doctor immediately, the CDC said.