News Releases

News Releases

DHEC Observes World TB Day, Continues Efforts to Eliminate Tuberculosis (TB) in South Carolina

March 23, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. — To raise awareness about tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment methods, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is joining national and international partners in recognizing March 24 as World TB Day.  

The agency also celebrates one of its own – Amy Painter, director of DHEC’s TB Division – who was recently honored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a 2023 CDC U.S. TB Elimination Champion for her contributions to preventing and controlling TB. Calling her a “TB elimination crusader,” the CDC commended Painter for “organizing and leading TB contact investigations, establishing United for Ukraine screening clinics, and having an open-door policy to meet the needs of the TB team.”

Amy Painter


“Amy exemplifies the people-first approach DHEC stresses in protecting the health of all South Carolinians,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC director. “She greatly deserves this national recognition. The efforts of her and her team help protect our residents from the spread of TB through prevention education, contact investigation, and treatment for those individuals who do contract the disease. Amy and her team help make our state healthier.” 

World TB Day marks the day in 1882 when it was discovered that tuberculosis is a bacterial disease found primarily in the lungs. TB can be spread when the person with the disease coughs or sneezes and the droplets with the bacteria are breathed in by someone nearby.   

“In the past, tuberculosis was a severely debilitating disease requiring hospitalization, often for months, and 33% of those with TB died from it,” said Dr. Simmer. “Today, however, thanks to antibiotic treatment and the work of people like Amy and her team, most people with TB do very well with treatment and do not need hospitalization.” 

The goal of DHEC’s Tuberculosis Control Program is to eliminate tuberculosis in South Carolina. When a person is diagnosed with TB disease, DHEC investigates to identify others who may have been exposed to help protect their health and limit spread of the disease.  

“On World TB Day, we join local, state, national and global efforts to recognize achievements in TB prevention and sustain our commitment to ending this devastating disease,” said Amy Painter, director of DHEC’s Tuberculosis Control Division. “Through increased awareness, prevention efforts, public health interventions, improved methods for early diagnosis and assuring patients complete their treatment, South Carolina remains committed to the goal of TB elimination.”  

Early diagnosis and treatment are very important to ensuring a good outcome, so it is strongly encouraged that anyone with symptoms of TB seek care as soon as possible. Symptoms include coughing for three or more weeks, coughing up mucus or blood, chest pain or pain when breathing, fatigue, unintentional weight loss, fever, and chills. 

A person can have “active TB disease,” meaning they are ill with symptoms and potentially contagious, or “latent TB infection (LTBI),” meaning they are infected with the bacteria but don’t have symptoms and can’t spread the infection. Medicine is available to successfully treat someone with active TB, and to keep someone with LTBI from developing active TB disease. 

“While TB has been on the decline in South Carolina and across the country, too many people still suffer from the disease,” Painter said. “In the previous four years, South Carolina had less than 100 TB disease cases each year, however, for 2022, we will surpass 100 cases. Enhancing our efforts to identify and treat LTBI presents the real opportunity to eliminate TB disease.” 

DHEC provides medications by Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) for all TB cases at no cost to the patient, performs contact investigations on all infectious cases of TB disease, treats LTBI, offers consultation services to community partners regarding TB and offers public outreach materials that help educate South Carolinians about tuberculosis.   

To learn more about World TB Day, visit and to learn more about DHEC’s Tuberculosis Control Program, visit 


NOTE: The 2022 national tuberculosis report, which includes official state-specific data, is expected to be released by the CDC in the coming days, before the end of March. Once the official CDC figures are available, DHEC will update its Tuberculosis Control Program webpage with the detailed 2022 data. 


Media Relations