News Releases

News Releases

DHEC Commits to Continuing Efforts to Eliminate Tuberculosis (TB) in South Carolina for World TB Day

March 22, 2024

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will join partners across the country and globe in raising awareness about tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment methods for World TB Day

Celebrated annually on March 24, 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 spread when a person with the disease coughs or sneezes and the droplets with the bacteria are breathed in by someone nearby.    

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

Prior to the discovery of the first antibiotic to treat TB in the 1940s, tuberculosis was a severely debilitating disease requiring hospitalization. Early treatment of the disease included isolation away from family and loved ones, often for months, in TB hospitals or sanatoriums. In the 1930s, more than one-third of those admitted to the South Carolina Sanatorium, then the state’s primary facility for those with TB, died in the hospital. Thankfully with effective treatment, TB is now rarely fatal. 

TB incidence in the United States decreased drastically after additional drugs used to treat TB were developed in the 1950s. In 1953, there were 84,304 cases of TB and 19,707 deaths reported in the United States. In 2020, there were 7,171 TB cases and 600 deaths reported. 

“The South Carolina TB team are experts in evaluating and treating TB,” said Amy Painter, director of DHEC’s TB Division. “Their rapid response in evaluating and testing close contacts reduces the risk of future cases of TB.” 

A person can have “active TB,” meaning they are ill with symptoms and potentially contagious, or a “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.  

DHEC provides medications by Directly Observed Therapy for all individuals with TB 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.    

With World TB Day falling on Sunday this year, DHEC’s TB staff will observe the day on Friday, March 22, with a day of reflection and a celebration of effective TB treatments. DHEC’s TB staff from across the state will attend an event featuring informative lectures from DHEC personnel and partners, providing staff with insight that will help them in the field as they continue the agency’s work to eliminate tuberculosis in South Carolina.  

“We are bringing our tuberculosis staff together in honor of World TB Day to acknowledge their collaborative efforts in treating individuals with TB disease and to celebrate the great work they have done in their investigations of close contacts,” said Painter. “Our meeting allows us to share topics of interest as an ongoing training opportunity and take stock of all the good work done over the past year.” 

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

NOTE: The 2023 national tuberculosis report is expected to be released by the CDC on March 28. Detailed 2023 TB data for South Carolina will be posted to DHEC’s TB Data & Statistics webpage at that time. 



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