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A concerted effort by Public Health – Seattle & King County to successfully treat tuberculosis cases has pushed rates in King County last year to a 30-year low, officials say.

Despite that effort, King County still has one of the highest rates in the nation of this communicable disease, and one out of every six cases last year was resistant to at least one TB medication. King County also had its first case of extensively drug-resistant TB: a patient diagnosed overseas but living locally.

Public Health’s latest annual TB report notes that King County last year had a rate of 5.5 cases per 100,000 people, considerably higher than the 3.0 per 100,000 rate in the rest of Washington state or in the U.S., which has an average rate of 3.4 TB cases per 100,000 people.

King County also has an estimated 100,000 people with latent (dormant) TB infection, which can become active under the right circumstances. A 10-year federal grant will allow the county to put new emphasis on finding and treating latent cases, officials said.