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For Release: March 20, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Tuberculosis Remains a Health Concern in Oklahoma
March 24 is World TB Day

Vigorous and sustained public health efforts in the United States have led to a steady decline in active disease and deaths due to tuberculosis (TB). Oklahoma has mirrored the national trend. However, as remarkable as the progress has been, there is room for improvement. In 2007, four Oklahomans died as a result of TB.

Most people who are infected with TB are not sick but carry the bacteria in a dormant state. This is known as latent TB infection and may never pose a threat to a person’s health. Last year about 3,000 Oklahomans were diagnosed with latent TB infection.

The danger to public health comes when a person’s immune system cannot stop the TB bacteria from multiplying. Soon, the infection is in an active disease state and potentially contagious. Persons with this type of condition are said to have active TB disease. In 2007, 149 cases of active TB were identified and treated in Oklahoma.

TB usually affects the lungs. The disease is spread from person to person when someone with pulmonary or laryngeal TB coughs, sneezes, laughs or sings, propelling the TB bacteria into the air. People who share the same air space with this person may breathe in the bacteria and become infected.

Symptoms of active TB disease can include persistent cough, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is the best way to prevent further spread of the infection and diminish the duration and extent of disease.

All four of the TB deaths in Oklahoma last year were due to a TB bacteria that are curable when treated with standard TB drugs. However, with the rising rate of multi-drug resistant TB in the world, increased immigration of persons to the U.S. from high TB incidence countries, and increased competition for public health resources, every person needs to remain vigilant and informed about tuberculosis.

On Monday, March 24, the global fight against TB will be observed through World TB Day. For more information about TB, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health Acute Disease Service at (405) 271-4060, your local county health department, or visit this Web site: www.health.ok.gov.


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