WEIRD: California Experiencing a ‘Substantial Increase’ in TB Cases

In a worrying development, California has witnessed a significant surge in tuberculosis (TB) cases in 2023.

According to data from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), there were 2,113 reported TB cases in the state last year, a staggering 15% increase from the 1,842 cases in 2022.

The recent spike in TB cases is particularly concerning given the steady rise observed since 2020. As the CDPH report highlights, “After reported cases dropped by 20 percent from 2019 to 2020, the number has steadily risen each year.

Since 2020, reported cases have increased by 24 percent.” The 15% year-over-year jump in 2023 is the most dramatic increase in recent years, dwarfing the 5% and 3% increases seen in 2022 and 2021, respectively.

In response to this public health crisis, the CDPH has issued a health advisory to healthcare providers across the state, urging them to be vigilant in identifying potential TB cases. The department emphasized that doctors should “consider TB when TB risks, signs, symptoms, or imaging findings compatible with TB are present in a patient with a respiratory illness.”

The advisory also outlined key risk factors for TB, including having lived in countries with high TB rates, being immunocompromised, having close contact with an active TB patient, residing in congregate settings like prisons or jails, and experiencing homelessness.

These risk factors underscore the vulnerability of certain populations and the need for targeted interventions to curb the spread of the disease.

TB symptoms can be highly variable and sometimes even absent, making early detection a challenge. However, common signs include persistent cough lasting more than two weeks, unexplained weight loss, fever, night sweats, and coughing up blood. Healthcare providers must remain alert to these indicators and promptly initiate appropriate testing and treatment to prevent further transmission.