To commemorate the discovery in 1882 of the bacteria that causes Tuberculosis, the Westchester County Department of Health will partner with Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College to present a symposium for healthcare providers and medical students, “TB in the Hudson Valley,” on Monday, March 25 at New York Medical College.

To heighten awareness that Tuberculosis remains a concern, the Westchester County Department of Health encourages residents to ask their medical provider if Tuberculosis (TB) screening is right for them.

An estimated 1.7 billion people worldwide are infected with TB. In the United states, 13 million people of all ages have latent TB. If the disease is left untreated, they may develop active TB in the future, spread the disease and feel quite ill. However, they do not have any TB symptoms and cannot spread TB now.

In 2023, 35 Westchester County residents, ranging in age from 10 to 92 years old, were confirmed to have active TB. TB also touched the lives of many who were exposed to someone with infectious TB at work, school or home, in a social setting or a healthcare facility. This included 67 children under age 12, who underwent evaluations in Westchester County Department of Health Clinics and 11 children younger than five years old, who required medication to prevent illness following prolonged household exposures.  

Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, said: “Screening by a medical provider is important because this disease can affect anyone, and those who don’t know they have early disease can spread TB to people around them, even when they have no symptoms. The right treatment can stop TB.”

TB germs are spread through the air when a person with active TB disease coughs or sneezes. Tuberculosis disease begins with an infection without symptoms that later develops into disease in five to 15 percent of people. For every case of active TB, there are at least 1,500 people with latent infection. Nearly all new cases of active TB come from people with latent disease who develop symptoms and then spread infection. 

The best way to stop the spread of TB is to identify people with latent infection via a simple TB skin or blood test and follow-up with antibiotic treatment. Most people are unaware they are at risk to develop TB disease and it is only through testing that they can be identified and treated. Young children, people who are pregnant or those with a weakened immune system due to diabetes, cancer or HIV are at greatest risk to develop active disease. If untreated, TB can lead to permanent disability or death.

To protect the public, the health department provides care and medication with no out-of-pocket cost to people diagnosed with active TB.  Last year, 36 people in Westchester County were newly identified with active TB.  To decrease the likelihood that TB will spread to others, the Health Department also:

  • Works collaboratively with healthcare providers who manage the care of Westchester residents with active TB to assure the best possible treatment and outcome
  • Verifies that people with active TB do not attend school, work and other places where they could spread TB until treatment makes them non-contagious
  • Manages complex cases of multi-drug resistant TB.

The Health Department evaluates and potentially treats inactive (latent) TB in:

  • Children 12-19 years old and adults who are candidates for a shortened treatment,
  • Children under 5 years old, who are at increased risk for developing active TB, and
  • Pregnant and post-partum women.

Amler said: “Early detection and treatment is so important and preventive TB treatment is much more convenient than it once was. A smartphone app and a new four-month treatment regimen help us reduce the number of active cases of TB in Westchester. And for those without symptoms, a three or four month course of oral medication, rather than the old regimen of six months or more, makes it easier for adults and children who do not have symptoms to compete their therapy and limit the spread of TB.”

For more information, call the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or visit the Health Department website at