Tuberculosis is one of the world's most lethal infectious diseases. Further progress in consigning it to the past is a massive challenge. By Tom Paulson.
Global burden of tuberculosis
In 2011, nearly 9 million people fell ill from TB and 1.4 million died, mostly in poor countries, with 60% of cases in Asia and 24% in Africa (Fig. 1).
The biggest killer
Tuberculosis has killed more than any other infectious disease in history. Over a billion lives in the past two hundred years (Fig. 2).
The 100 years battle
Rising living standards in industrialized nations, interrupted by two World wars, and new antibiotics had tuberculosis in decline (Fig. 3).
Over the past fifteen years, an invigorated anti-TB effort has begun to reduce the global burden of disease worsened by HIV (Fig. 4).
The transmission cycle