Tuberculosis is resurging after decades of decline, killing nearly 3 million people worldwide annually and threatening to claim even more unless quick action is taken, health officials warned.

The World Health Organization reported Monday that progress against TB, a contagious diseases of the lungs and other organs, has "come to an abrupt halt" in some industrial countries, like the United States. Furthermore, the number of reported TB cases have almost doubled in some east and central African nations over the past four to five years, WHO said.Currently, about 8 million people annually develop new cases of TB. About 20 million people worldwide have active cases of TB, and another 1.7 billion are TB carriers.

TB is caused by airborne bacteria, called mycobacterium tuberculosis, which are coughed up by an infected person and inhaled by the healthy. The bacteria settle in the lungs, where the immune system attacks them, forming abscesses. From there, the bacteria can seep into the blood stream and attack other organs.

WHO estimates about one-third of the estimated 8 million to 10 million people infected with HIV worldwide are also infected with the bacteria that causes TB.

The dual-infection problem appears worst in parts of Africa, where an estimated 2.4 million people are infected with both HIV and TB.