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Saturday, March 21, 2015

World TB Day — March 24, 2015

Workers who suffer from work-related tuberculosis maybe entitled to benefits under the NJ Workers' Compensation Act. The increased risk for occupational exposure to tuberculosis (TB) is recognized among health care and other workers exposed to persons with active TB and workers exposed to silica or other agents that increase the progression from latent to active TB. CDC Proportionate Mortality from Pulmonary Tuberculosis Associated With Occupations—28 States, 1979–1990. MMWR 1995; Vol. 44/No. 1:14-19.

A worker who was said to have had a pre-existing dormant tuberculosis was permitted to recover workers' compensation benefits as a result of working in an atmosphere containing impurities which were said to have reactivated the tuberculosis condition. Dawson v. E. J. Brooks & Co., 134 N.J.L. 94, 45 A.2d 892 (1946).

Where a 42 year-old worker was required to operate a rapidly propelled grinding wheel and was exposed to dust from the operation, recovery for the aggravation of a “pre-existing latent tuberculosis” was allowed. The medical witness asserted that the grinding wheel produced an excessive amount of dust which, in turn, caused a severe bronchitis resulting in irritation of the lung tissues and increased coughing, causing an aggravation of the underlying tuberculosis. Reynolds v. General Motors Corporation, 38 N.J.Super. 274, 118 A.2d 724 (Co.1955), aff'd 40 N.J.Super. 484, 123 A.2d 555 (App.Div.1956).

A foundry worker who suffered silicosis in the course of his employment as a molder was permitted recovery based upon the theory that the silicosis aggravated the petitioner's dormant tuberculosis condition. Masko v. Barnett Foundry & Machine Co., 53 N.J.Super. 414, 147 A.2d 579 (App.Div.1959), certif. denied 29 N.J. 464, 149 A.2d 859 (1959).

An individual working in a ribbon factory who was exposed to dust and fumes from carbon paper, teletype, and typewriter ribbons was permitted to recover disability as a result of the activation of an underlying tuberculosis condition by the dust and fumes. Bond v. Rose Ribbon & Carbon Mfg. Co., 78 N.J.Super. 505, 189 A.2d 459 (App.Div.1963), certif. granted 40 N.J. 499, 193 A.2d 137 (1963), aff'd 42 N.J. 308, 200 A.2d 322 (1964).

Each year, World TB Day is observed on March 24. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). World TB Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions and to support worldwide TB control efforts.

For the second year, CDC supports the theme "Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB." Health officials in local and state TB programs are encouraged to provide educational awareness regarding TB to their communities and to work with other agencies and organizations that care for those most at risk for TB.

In 2014, a total of 9,412 new cases of TB were reported in the United States, a rate of 3.0 per 100,000 population (1). Although the total number of TB cases continues to decline, 2014 showed the smallest decline in incidence in over a decade. Nationally, TB still persists at greater incidence in foreign-born persons and racial or ethnic minorities.

CDC is committed to a world free from TB. Initiatives to improve awareness, testing, and treatment of latent TB infection and TB disease among groups at high risk are critical to achieve elimination of TB in the United States.

Additional information regarding World TB Day and CDC's TB elimination activities is available at


​1) ​Scott C, Kirking HL, Jeffries C, Price SF, Pratt R. Tuberculosis trends—United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2015;64:265–9

Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.