TB Testing in the U. S.

By Nancy Steinbach

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

The United States Institute of Medicine has released a report that is part of an effort to stop the disease tuberculosis in the United States. It suggests a tuberculosis test for people who want to move to the United States from nations that have a serious tuberculosis problem. Congress must approve the proposals in the report before they could be carried out.

The World Health Organization says about eight-million people become sick with tuberculosis, also known as TB, every year. The disease kills between two-million and three-million people around the world each year. It is caused by bacteria that damage and sometimes destroy the lungs. Victims may suffer a high body temperature, cough, weight loss, chest pain and tiredness. The disease spreads through the air to other people when a person with an active infection coughs, sneezes, talks or spits.

However, the bacteria that cause TB can live in the lungs for many years before signs of the disease appear. During this time, a skin test can find the presence of the bacteria in a person's body. The new TB testing would be for people who want to move to the United States from countries where more than thirty-five percent of the population is infected with tuberculosis. Most of those countries are in Asia and Africa.

The new American proposal says people found to be infected must be treated before they would be permitted to live permanently in the United States. The government would refuse entry permission only to those people suffering active tuberculosis that could be passed to others.

The report also suggests that the United States government increase the amount of money it spends for tuberculosis research each year. It says the government must improve public health programs that identify and treat people with TB. It also says the government should increase aid to countries that are fighting the disease.

Morton Swartz is a professor at the Harvard University Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He led the medical group that wrote the report. Doctor Swartz says the United States cannot stop tuberculosis until the disease is brought under control around the world. He says people with the tuberculosis bacteria must be found and treated or the disease will damage and kill even more people in the future.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English