Colorado health department estimates thousands are living with tuberculosis infections

An estimated 158,000 people are living with TB infection in Colorado.

A stock photo of a doctor talking to a patient. (Ilmicrofono Oggiono/Flickr)
A stock photo of a doctor talking to a patient. (Ilmicrofono Oggiono/Flickr)
A stock photo of a doctor talking to a patient. (Ilmicrofono Oggiono/Flickr)

Federal and state health officials are recommending thousands of adults get screenings for latent tuberculosis infection.

People with TB infection generally don’t feel symptoms unless they develop TB disease which can be contagious and result in death if left untreated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

An estimated 158,000 people are living with TB infection in Colorado. Most are unaware of their condition, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The estimate was based on the federal TB infection rate.

The state encourages those who have traveled to countries where TB is common — most places outside of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western and Northern European countries — to get tested. The tests are widely available at doctors’ offices.

Others encouraged to get tested include those who have been in close contact with someone who has infectious TB disease; people who are immuno-compromised, including those with HIV; and those who work or reside in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, residential care homes or hospitals.

Children, especially those younger than 5, should be tested if they fall into one of the above groups, according to the state.

In 2015, there were 73 cases of people having TB disease in Colorado, according to Pete Dupree, manager of the tuberculosis program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Dupree said Colorado peaked with 124 active TB cases in 2006, and until last year the prevalence of the disease was declining. He expects to see cases trend back downward this year. As of Sept. 1, about 40 active cases have been recorded in the state.

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Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and on the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.