GENEVA - The World Health Organization on Thursday urged over 30 countries, including some of the world's richest, to recognise the continued danger of tuberculosis and try to wipe it out by 2050.
Although TB is preventable and curable, a total of 155,000 people still fall ill with the disease every year in the 33 developed nations listed and 10,000 die, the WHO said.
The number of recorded new cases per year in the countries concerned -- ranging from Australia to France and Germany, and New Zealand to the United States -- is around 100 per million inhabitants.
Millions are also unknowingly infected with the TB bacillus, which can be spread by sneezing, and therefore risk falling ill at some point, the WHO underlined.
"If you talk to the general public of these countries, (they think) it is a disease of the past, that they don't have it anymore," said Marco Raviglione, head of the WHO's anti-TB programme.
All told, TB claimed 1.3 million lives worldwide last year, making it the deadliest disease after Aids to be caused by a single infectious agent, according to WHO.
The 33 countries have been singled out precisely because they have relatively low levels of tuberculosis, notably compared with hotspots such as China, India and the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.