Media Advisory: CSU to host World TB Day Monday, March 24

About 100 high-school students from Fort Collins and Greeley will visit Colorado State University on World TB Day Monday to learn about the global killer tuberculosis and to practice laboratory skills needed to investigate new diagnostics, treatments and preventive therapies.

Between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., the students will visit a dozen laboratories run by CSU’s world-renowned tuberculosis researchers.

Reporters are welcome to cover the event.

Students attending represent Rocky Mountain, Fossil Ridge and Fort Collins high schools in Fort Collins; and Greeley Central High School and Frontier Academy in Greeley.

The students will tour the CSU Mycobacteria Research Laboratories, which were established about 30 years ago and house about 170 faculty and staff who work on tuberculosis and related infectious diseases. It is the world’s largest group of university researchers investigating TB.

Since the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories began, the CSU team has received more than $100 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among other agencies and foundations.
This research funding is used to discover new TB diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to combat the disease.

The work is significant because TB, an infectious disease that typically attacks the lungs, kills an estimated 1.5 million people each year.

About one-third of the global population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and millions fall ill each year, according to the World Health Organization. Worsening the epidemic is the alarming spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, as well as the disproportionate impact of tuberculosis on people whose immune systems are weakened by HIV.

In the United States, tuberculosis infection has declined to fewer than 10,000 cases reported in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even so, it remains a concern among some at-risk groups.

Just a century ago, Colorado was known as the “World’s Sanatorium” because TB patients from across the country and abroad came to the state seeking its curative sunshine and clean, dry air. In the early 1900s, TB killed one of every seven people living in the United States and Europe, the CDC says.

Students taking part in World TB Day at CSU will learn about the global TB threat and will take part in a number of hands-on laboratory activities meant to heighten awareness about TB while encouraging high-school students to enter the sciences.