New Jersey health officials are keeping a close eye across the Hudson River on nearby New York, where tuberculosis cases have soared over the past year.

The New York Health Department reports TB cases in Manhattan and surrounding boroughs shot up almost 10 percent in 2017. But in the Garden State, tuberculosis remains rare.

According to New Jersey Health Department Deputy Commissioner Jackie Cornell, there has been a steady decline in TB cases, from 422 cases10 years ago to 282 confirmed cases last year.

“TB peaked in New Jersey in 1992 and we’ve seen almost a 72 percent decrease since that time.”

She says the Health Department has put a strong emphasis on education, especially with the state’s foreign-born population.

“TB is endemic in many parts of the world. A third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis, so education is very important.”

Cornell says most TB cases in Jersey are in people who have come here from other countries.

“What we are seeing is about half of all the cases were among individuals from India, the Philippines, Peru and Mexico.”

Dr. Ted Louie, an infectious disease expert with the Medical Society of New Jersey, says the Garden State is doing an excellent job of screening and controlling TB cases.

“Each hospital, for example, has protocols and procedures in place, what we call infection prevention," he said.

He said if tuberculosis is suspected, “then in the hospital we would immediately put them in isolation, so that means that that anybody going into the room would have to wear a special mask that would prevent transmission of TB.”

“And these types of rooms are what we call negative pressure, which is the air is not circulating into the rest of the hospital.”

He notes when there is a confirmed case of TB, “we make sure that the patient has follow-up and is able to take the medications, sometimes directly observed so we know the patient is taking the medication.”

Cornell points out in New Jersey, “every person with TB who tests positive is assigned a nurse case manager to supervise their care.”

Louie says TB usually shows up in the lungs, with coughing blood and weight loss.

TB can affect the kidneys and the brain, but if it’s caught early enough it’s usually curable with special antibiotics.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

Also on New Jersey 101.5:


More From New Jersey 101.5 FM