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Press Release
New York City Department of Health
Office of Public Affairs
CONTACT: Ed Skyler / Jordan Barowitz
Sandra Mullin (DOH)
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
(212) 788-2958
DOH(212) 295-5335/5336


TB in New York City Hits Record Low – Cases Persists in some Areas of the City

Commissioner's Remarks for Corona Clinic Opening, March 20, 2002

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a newly renovated state-of-the-art tuberculosis chest center in Corona, Queens. The center is one of the busiest tuberculosis clinics in the country and provides evaluation and treatment services to Queens' residents free of charge. New York City Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Kenneth Holden, Assistant Commissioner for the Tuberculosis Control Program, Sonal Munsiff, MD, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, and City Councilmember Hiram Monseratte joined the Mayor at the event.

"New York City must continue to remain at the forefront of both traditional public health activities such as tuberculosis control, and newly emerging challenges such as bioterrorism preparedness, tobacco control, and other pressing public health concerns," said Mayor Bloomberg. "As the City moves forward in achieving these objectives, state-of-the-art facilities that provide high quality services, such as this chest center in Corona, will help ensure that all New Yorkers receive access to quality health care.

"New York City has led the national battle to control tuberculosis and is a model for the world. Globally, there are 8 million cases of tuberculosis and nearly 2 million deaths each year. Tuberculosis shows that we are all connected by the air we breathe. New York City remains at the forefront of tuberculosis control and other health efforts by providing sensitive, appropriate services for all New Yorkers," Mayor Bloomberg continued.

"While tremendous strides have been made in controlling tuberculosis in the past decade, New York City still has the highest tuberculosis case rate of any major metropolitan area in the nation," said Commissioner Frieden. An increasing share of new TB cases is among New Yorkers born outside the United States. DOH continues to reach out to these and all communities at risk for TB."

Dr. Frieden added, "Preliminary data indicate that in 2001 there were 1,261 new cases of tuberculosis in New York City, a decrease of more than five percent from the previous year. While the current downward trend of TB cases in New York City over the past nine years is encouraging, it is imperative that that DOH continues intensive targeted efforts to prevent and treat TB. Directly Observed Therapy remains the mainstay of our success in preventing the spread of TB and reduces drug-resistant TB."

In 2001, the number of new TB cases among non-U.S. born New Yorkers was stable, while the number of new TB cases among New Yorkers born in the US continued to decrease. In 2001, 64% of new TB cases in New York City were among non-U.S. born persons. In 1992, only 18% of TB cases were among non-U.S. born persons.

Dr. Munsiff said, "At the beginning of the last century, immigrants formed the majority of New York City's tuberculosis cases. Today, they are again forming a greater percentage of New York City's cases. While the resurgence of TB during the 1980s and early 1990s was driven by HIV and a weak TB Control Program, today TB has become increasingly a disease of those born outside the United States."

According to 2001 preliminary data, the largest number of TB cases has been identified among persons born in China, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. DOH's TB prevention and control strategy provides services to high-risk communities by working closely with health care providers to enhance their ability to provide culturally appropriate care. DOH is also collaborating with community leaders and organizations in immigrant communities at risk for TB to implement effective, targeted prevention and treatment strategies.

DOH operates 10 Chest Centers in all five boroughs, and provides outreach and treatment for many traditionally underserved populations. The Corona Chest Center alone logged over 37,000 patient visits in 2001, making it one of the busiest TB clinics in the country. The clinic treated 572 persons with active or suspected tuberculosis. Approximately 50% of all TB patients treated in Queens last year were treated at the Corona Chest Center.

Borough-wide, nearly 80% of TB cases in Queens were among non-U.S. born New Yorkers. Queens had the highest case rate of the five boroughs in 2001, at 18.3 per 100,000 people; Corona had the highest tuberculosis case rate in New York City with 36.1 cases per 100,000. The citywide average rate in 2001 was 15.7 cases per 100,000 people. The national average was 5.8 cases per 100,000 people in 2000. (The national 2001 rate is not yet available but is expected to be lower than 2000). The Healthy People 2000 goal for the nation was 3.5 tuberculosis cases per 100,000 people.

New York City's use of Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), in which trained health workers observe and record every dose of medication a patient takes until the course of treatment is completed, has been essential to the declining rate of tuberculosis over the past decade. The World Health Organization has made DOT central to its efforts to control TB globally. In addition to administering DOT in patients' homes and other sites throughout the City and in 10 Chest Centers, DOH conducts extensive TB surveillance and epidemiological reviews to identify communities at risk and provide services for them.

To help promote the message that TB is preventable and curable, Roberto Alomar, the New York Mets player is participating in this year's World TB Day poster campaign. Posters with the slogan "Don't Let TB Catch You Off Base" will be distributed to community organizations and doctors' offices citywide.

For more information about tuberculosis, Directly Observed Therapy, and a complete list of DOH Chest Centers, please visit