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FOR RELEASE: March 16, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Oklahoma Observes World TB Day – March 20

The Oklahoma Coalition for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (TB) will observe World TB Day on Tuesday, March 20, 2001, with activities at the State Capitol on the fourth floor in the Rotunda area.

The Coalition says a significant decline in the occurrence of TB disease occurred in Oklahoma during 2000. There were 154 cases of active TB in the state, which compares quite favorably to the 208 cases that occurred during 1999. For the last decade, TB disease has been at or above 200 cases per year in Oklahoma.

“The decline in TB disease occurrence in 2000 is attributable to several years of sustained tuberculosis control practice across the state,” said Jon Tillinghast, M.D., TB Control Officer for the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). “Diligent tuberculosis case finding, efforts to ensure the completion of adequate TB therapy, the identification of newly infected individuals in contacts of active TB cases, and treating those persons to prevent future disease are finally paying off,” said Tillinghast.

TB disease most often occurs in the lung and produces symptoms such as: a cough lasting longer than two to three weeks, low grade fever, night sweats and weight loss. The cough usually results in the production of sputum or “phlegm”, which may be blood stained. “Symptoms vary from patient to patient,” emphasized Tillinghast.

Persons at most risk of acquiring TB infection are family members, friends and coworkers who spend time in a confined space with the diseased patient. The risk increases as the amount of time with the patient goes up.

Some highlights of TB in Oklahoma in 2000 are:

  • The majority of cases were adults over the age of 25 (86%).
  • Clustering of cases in urban areas occurred with 51 cases in Oklahoma County and 19 cases in Tulsa County.
  • Eighty-four cases (55%) were from rural counties.
  • White individuals accounted for 87 cases (56%).
  • Twenty-five cases (16%) occurred in both the Black and American Indian populations in Oklahoma; with 17 cases in Asians (11%); and 11 cases in Hispanics (7%).
  • Twenty-five of Oklahoma cases were foreign born (16%).
  • Sixteen cases (10%) occurred in jails and prisons.
  • Only three TB organisms (2.6%) were resistant to Isoniazid.

The overall state rate for TB declined from 6.2 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 4.5/100,000 in 2000. Case rates for TB Disease were lowest in Whites with 3 cases per 100,000 population. The highest rate for 2000 occurred in Asian Oklahomans with 35 per 100,000 population. The rate for Blacks was 10/100,000 while the rate for American Indians was 9/100,000 and that for Hispanics was 6/100,000.

For more information on TB, contact the TB Division of the OSDH at (405) 271-4060 or call your local county health department and ask for the “TB Nurse”. Internet data is available at http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/tb/index.html.

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