A total of 417 new tuberculosis patients – most of them born in countries where
the disease is endemic – were diagnosed here in 2011, according to a Health
Ministry report released for publication on Sunday.
World TB Day is being
marked here and around the world on March 24.
An estimated 8.7 million
people, especially in southeast Asia, Africa and the western Pacific, were
diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease in 2011, the ministry
The rate in Israel is 5.3 patients per 100,000 residents, but as
89.7 percent of them were born abroad, the rate among the Israel-born was 0.56
per 100,000. The prevalence of TB increased somewhat between 2010 and
Since 1997, the ministry has operated with the four health funds a
national program to fight TB. District health offices work to identify people
who have been infected and take action to treat and prevent
Hospitals located in areas where there are large numbers of
potential TB patients have programs to identify and treat them.
percent of those TB patients who undergo the treatment – known as DOTS (directly
observed treatment-short course) are cured. It entails a cocktail of
antibiotics. If a TB patient feels better and stops taking the drugs, the
disease can return with a vengeance, thus they should be directly observed when
they take the pills.
Failure to take all the pills can render the
bacteria that cause the disease resistant to TB drugs. This occurs around the
world, and also in Israel, but only a few isolated cases involved Mycobacterium
tuberculosis pathogens that were extremely resistant to drugs.
ministry will mark the day with events for professionals who handle TB patients,
including doctors and epidemiological nurses.