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FOR RELEASE: March 21, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reported a slight increase in the number of individuals with active tuberculosis (TB) disease in Oklahoma during 1999. Cases rose from 198 in 1998 to 208 cases in 1999. According to health officials, tuberculosis incidence in Oklahoma has been relatively stable over the last few years with around 200 cases per year.

"TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that usually affect the lungs. People with TB disease can spread the disease through the air by coughing, talking sneezing and/or singing. People with TB disease frequently have symptoms of feeling weak or sick, weight loss, fever and night sweats," said State Health Commissioner J.R. Nida, M.D.

Nida said those with TB of the lung may complain of cough, chest pain, and/or coughing up blood. Persons at greatest risk of developing TB infection are family members, friends, and coworkers who share the same air space with someone who has TB of the lungs.

Some statistical findings regarding TB in Oklahoma in 1999 revealed:

  • Seventy-one cases occurred among people ages 25 - 44 years old and 55 cases occurred among persons 45 - 64 years old.
  • Oklahoma County and Tulsa County experienced the greatest number of cases with 59 and 39 cases respectively.
  • Whites accounted for 127 cases.
  • American Indians were the next highest with 39 cases.
  • Thirty-three cases were foreign-born.
  • Twenty-two cases were homeless.
  • Eleven cases were inmates in Oklahoma jails or prisons.

Case rates for contracting TB were highest among the Asian population at 47 cases per 100,000 population followed by American Indians at 15 cases per 100,000 population and Blacks at 11 cases per 100,000 population. The case rate for whites was the lowest at four cases per 100,000 population even though whites accounted for the most cases.

World Tuberculosis Day will be observed March 24, 2000. For more information about TB, contact the Oklahoma Coalition for the Elimination of Tuberculosis at 405/271-4060 or your local county health department. Information also is available on the TB section of the OSDH Web site: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/tb/index.html.


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