Tuberculosis bacteria (File)

Tuberculosis bacteria (File)

State tuberculosis case counts reach 10-year high

Active tuberculosis cases in Alaska have spiked 66%

After three consecutive years of steady numbers, active tuberculosis cases in Alaska have spiked 66%, to the highest count reported in the last 10 years.

According to a Thursday State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin, in 2022, 96 active tuberculosis cases were reported. This is up from 58 cases of tuberculosis reported in 2021, 2020 and 2019.

The bulletin writes that Alaska has consistently had one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the nation. A 2021 Tuberculosis Summary published by the State Department of Health shows that even at last year’s much lower count, Alaska ranked highest in the nation in tuberculosis incidence rate, at 7.9 cases per 100,000 people, ahead of the two closest, Hawaii and California, at 7.4 and 4.5 respectively. The national average at that time was 2.7.

According to the bulletin, Alaska’s historically high rates of tuberculosis are largely attributed to a “devastating TB epidemic in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

The 2022 spike is attributed in part to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the bulletin says caused delays in diagnosis and treatment for tuberculosis, “and diminished public health capacity for TB control globally.”

Specifically, the bulletin points to staffing issues in rural communities and less capacity to provide directly observed therapy to patients. Community-wide screening was suspended for two years during the pandemic.

To combat the rise in cases, the state says it’s important to “Think TB,” when considering a diagnosis, and to recognize those with increased risk.

According to the bulletin, symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough, coughing blood, sweats, fevers and weight loss.

Tuberculosis can be treated through a multidrug therapy that requires between four and nine months. Without treatment, the disease can be fatal.

“State, local, and tribal partners are all working diligently to improve TB control statewide,” the report said.

At next week’s 2023 Alaska Health Summit, held at the University of Alaska Anchorage, multiple panels are dedicated to tuberculosis, featuring State Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink.

For more information about tuberculosis in the state, visit the Department of Health’s tuberculosis page at

Reach reporter Jake Dye at

More in News

Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs bumps to city water, sewer rates

The changes are effective July 1

Triumvirate Theatre President Joe Rizzo testifies before the Kenai Planning & Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai OKs permit for new Triumvirate playhouse

The playhouse design describes a $4.7 million facility that is two stories with an audience capacity of 150 people

Kenai City Council member Alex Douthit testifies in support of legislation allowing chickens on some city lots during a meeting of the Kenai Planning & Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai planning group gives conditional thumbs-up to chicken ordinance

The legislation would allow Kenai residents to keep up to 12 chicken hens on certain lots

Emergency personnel respond to a fire on R/V Qualifier, in the Northern Enterprises Boatyard on Kachemak Drive, Jan. 19, 2023, in Homer, Alaska. (Photos by Nika Wolfe)
Research vessel catches fire in Homer boatyard

The cause of the fire and extent of the damage is not yet known

Alaska Vocational Technical Center Executive Director Cathy LeCompte presents during a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
AVTEC director plugs programming at chamber luncheon

AVTEC is about more, LeCompte said, than just checking off classes to gain certification

From left, Dave Carey, Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Zach Hamilton and Peter Micciche participate in a Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor candidate forum on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough mayoral candidates participate in Tuesday forum

The forum was hosted by the Peninsula Clarion and KDLL 91.9 FM in partnership with the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters

A volunteer ladles Hungarian mushroom soup donated by Odie’s at Kenai United Methodist Food Pantry in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Jan. 23, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Church food pantry marks 20 years of service

The Food Pantry at Kenai United Methodist Church opened Jan. 26, 2003

Library Director Dave Berry and Advisory Board Chair Kate Finn participate in Library Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17, 2023, at Homer City Hall, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/Homer News)
Homer Library Advisory Board upholds decision to retain LGBTQ+ books

A citizen’s group last year submitted a petition asking that the books be removed from the children’s section

Most Read