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Nation in brief

Tuberculosis cases in U.S. fall to record low

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 21, 2003

ATLANTA -- The number of tuberculosis cases in the United States last year dropped by nearly 6 percent to an all-time low, federal officials said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 15,078 cases of TB were reported last year, a 5.7 percent drop from 15,989 in 2001. The decline was attributed to better public health prevention services.

The CDC also said the national TB rate -- 5.2 cases per 100,000 people -- is the lowest recorded in the United States since reporting began in 1953.

In other news ...

BOX IN GOOD SHAPE: NASA officials said Thursday that the exterior of the flight data recorder that was recovered Wednesday is in remarkably good condition -- raising hopes that its contents will provide clues to the cause of the Columbia disaster. NASA officials said they won't know until late next week at the earliest whether engineers can retrieve data from the recorder's tape.

MENTAL EVALUATION ORDERED: Tobacco farmer Dwight Ware Watson, who threatened to blow up a tractor on the National Mall this week, appeared in court Thursday, denying the accuracy of some of the charges against him and seeking to represent himself. Watson's request prompted the judge to order a mental evaluation. Watson was held for an overnight evaluation and ordered to return to court today.

SEXTUPLETS BORN: Sextuplets born 12 weeks premature in Pittsburgh were in critical but stable condition Thursday, each breathing with the aid of a ventilator. The three boys and three girls were delivered Wednesday to Erin and Joe Perry, both 33. The couple used fertility drugs and worked with a fertility clinic, doctors said.

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