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California’s tuberculosis cases spike in 2023

California saw a spike in tuberculosis cases in 2023, returning to levels not seen since before the pandemic.

In 2023, there were 2,113 reported cases of tuberculosis (TB) in California — a 15 percent increase from the 1,842 reported cases in 2022.

The number of cases in 2023 mirrors those in 2019, which saw 2,110 cases.

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.

But the 15 percent increase in 2023 marks the largest year-over-year jump in recent years. In 2022, reported cases were up by 5 percent; in 2021, reported cases were up 3 percent.

The recent jump has prompted the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to issue a health advisory to health care providers about the “substantial increase in Tuberculosis in California.”

The CDPH recommended that health care providers consider “TB when TB risks, signs, symptoms, or imaging findings compatible with TB are present in a patient with a respiratory illness.”

The department also noted that the risk for TB is substantially higher when the person has lived in a country with an elevated TB rate. Those who are immunocompromised, have been in close contact with someone with active TB disease, lived in a “congregate setting such as prison/jail,” or have experienced homelessness are all risk factors, too.

Symptoms include a cough that persists for more than two weeks, weight loss, fever or night sweats, and hemoptysis. Health officials warned that the symptoms are highly variable and sometimes TB does not present with any symptoms.

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