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Rate of Active Tuberculosis in the Denver Metro Area

Tuberculosis (TB) has not been eliminated from Colorado, and people in metro Denver get sick from TB every year. TB can be a devastating disease that prevents people from working or going to school for weeks or months, can cause permanent damage to the lungs, can be transmitted to family members or friends, and unfortunately is sometimes fatal. For most patients, TB is a preventable disease if the infection is diagnosed and treated before symptoms develop. This health indicator reports the number of active TB cases in the Denver Metro Area and explains what is being done to eliminate TB in our community.


What are we measuring and how are we measuring it?

Each year, the Denver Public Health TB Program evaluates, treats and collects data for all patients diagnosed with active TB in the seven-county Denver metropolitan area (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Jefferson, and Douglas Counties). Information is sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is used to calculate the rate of TB and any trends with the disease in Metro Denver.

Why do we measure this, and what is the data telling us?

Denver Public Health measures the rate of active TB because the number of cases is the ultimate way to measure progress in our efforts toward eliminating TB. Nationally, the CDC defined TB elimination as one case per million Americans per year.

The most recent data available from 2013 reported the national rate at a record-low 30 cases per million Americans. The rate for the Denver Metro Area in 2013 was 17.6 per million. While rates of TB have declined both nationally and in the Denver Metro Area, they remain far above our goal of TB elimination. Recent trends suggest we may be reaching a plateau with current efforts highlighting the need for innovative new approaches to achieve TB elimination.

What evidence-based actions or practices are we using at Denver Public Health?

  • Screening high-risk individuals for TB infection and disease using modern diagnostic methods, including testing of individuals who have been in close contact with patients sick with TB.
  • Treating active TB patients with directly-observed therapy. This involves public health officials observing patients taking their medicines, a method shown to dramatically improve treatment completion and prevent the development of drug-resistant strains of TB.
  • Treating of individuals with latent TB infections to reduce their risk of developing active TB later in life.
  • Genotyping TB specimens to help identify potential clusters of TB patients and to test for drug susceptibilities.

What other strategies have been proven to work?

  • Engaging primary care providers to identify individuals within their patient population who are at risk for TB so they are screened and treated.
  • Incorporating TB testing into electronic health records.
  • Educating communities most affected by TB about the risk factors and opportunities for prevention.

Who are our partners?

How to learn more or partner with us

Additional sources of data related to the measurement being monitored

To print this health indicator, please download a PDF of Rates of Active Tuberculosis in Metro Denver.

Last Updated 2/20/2015

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Denver Public Health

605 Bannock Street

Denver, CO 80204-4507

(303) 602-3700

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