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

House District 6 race gets 3rd candidate

Alana Greear filed a letter of intent to run on April 5

Kenai City Hall is seen on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai water treatment plant project moves forward

The city will contract with Anchorage-based HDL Engineering Consultants for design and engineering of a new water treatment plant pumphouse

Students of Soldotna High School stage a walkout in protest of the veto of Senate Bill 140 in front of their school in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi students walk out for school funding

The protest was in response to the veto of an education bill that would have increased school funding

The Kenai Courthouse as seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clam Gulch resident convicted of 60 counts for sexual abuse of a minor

The conviction came at the end of a three-week trial at the Kenai Courthouse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Seward, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (screenshot)
Borough awards contract for replacement of Seward High School track

The project is part of a bond package that funds major deferred maintenance projects at 10 borough schools

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs ordinance seeking to increase access to baby changing tables

The ordinance requires all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms

Most Read