Tuberculosis is a necrotizing bacterial infection and wide distribution. In man, the lungs are most commonly affected, but lesions may occur also in the kidneys, bones, lymph nodes, and meninges or be disseminated throughout the body.

In recent years, tuberculosis is an increasing public health problem in the United States, particularly among racial/ethnic minorities (Fig. 1, p.4). In 1990, the number of reported TB cases increased 9.4% compared with 1989 and 15.5% compared with 1984. In 1990, almost 70% of all TB cases and 86% of those among children ages <15 years occurred among racial/ethnic minorities. Compared with non-Hispanic whites, the 1990 TB case rate was notably higher for racial/ethnic minorities.

Adverse social and economic factors, the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic, and immigration of persons with tuberculous infection are contributing factors to the increase in TB cases. Other contributing factors include physician nonadherence in prescribing recommended treatment regimens and patient nonadherence in following prescribed recommended treatment regimens. (NMWR, Vol. 44. April 1992)