A tuberculosis scare at the Johns Hopkins Hospital health system should not be dismissed as a close call [“Workers vacate after possible TB exposure,” Local Digest, July 6]. While those involved in the accidental release of the tuberculosis sample were lucky, millions of people around the world do not share the same fate.

In 2016, 1.7 million people died of tuberculosis, including 528 in the United States. To protect ourselves and our families against potential exposure to TB, the federal government must continue and expand investment in global TB treatment. More than 95 percent of TB cases occur in low- and middle-income countries, where poverty can turn deadly for those infected with TB. The antibiotic regimen for six months of treatment costs only $20, but for many, that is out of reach, perpetuating the spread of TB.

As Congress attempts to pass the 2019 federal budget, the House has allocated $302 million to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s TB account; the Senate has proposed $275 million. The $27 million difference between the House and Senate figures would mean many thousands more people would die of TB.

Rachel Geisel, Arlington