Next time you’re in a crowd, think about this:

One-third of the people around you may be infected with tuberculosis (TB). Ten percent of those folks could develop the disease themselves. Then they might infect others.

On March 24, World Tuberculosis Day, health organizations everywhere want you to understand that diagnosis and treatment of this disease must improve., an international consortium of 1,300 health, research and government institutions, advocates “Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone,” a strategy to increase the rates of diagnosis, treatment and cure for people who are infected with the widespread TB bacterium.

People frequently are not diagnosed because the symptoms — cough, fever and weight loss — can be mild for many months. People fail to get proper care, they remain infectious, and they pass the disease to other people.

Information on tuberculosis (State Dept./Jamie McCann)
(State Dept./Jamie McCann)

This disease is as old as recorded history, but reports progress in stopping it. Tens of millions were cured between 1990 and 2015 as the TB death rate dropped 47 percent. has a plan to keep this progress going and eliminate TB as a global public health problem by 2050.

The organization works in more than 100 countries, with support from U.S.-based organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Air Force, Catholic Relief Services, Children International and others.