All Latter-day Saint missionaries returning home should be screened for tuberculosis.

The directive was issued as a reminder through a June 6 letter from the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to local leaders.

“Tuberculosis is a serious bacterial infection that can destroy the lungs and other vital organs,” the letter said. “It is critical that all returning missionaries be tested for tuberculosis because they could have been infected with the disease without having developed immediate symptoms.”

The letter included a copy of another letter that mission presidents will give to returning missionaries, instructing them to be tested for tuberculosis.

Church leaders have been encouraging returned missionaries to be screened for tuberculosis for at least 20 years.

Is tuberculosis common in young adults?

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Historical data suggests the risk of tuberculosis is highest during adolescence and young adulthood, according to a 2018 study by the European Respiratory Journal.

An estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis in 2020 and 1.5 million people died from the disease, which is curable and preventable. An estimated 66 million lives were saved from tuberculosis the same year, according to the World Health Organization.

“Tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk,” the WHO report said. “Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.”

Tuberculosis is found in every part of the world, although most new cases in 2020 were found in these eight countries:

  • India.
  • China.
  • Indonesia.
  • Philippines.
  • Pakistan.
  • Nigeria.
  • Bangladesh.
  • South Africa.
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