Southwestern Oklahoma Has Unusually Large Tuberculosis Outbreak
March 25, 2002
A man sick with TB for eight months started an outbreak that has infected 100 people in three southwestern Oklahoma counties, health officials said Friday. About 30 of those who are infected likely have active cases of the disease, while others have skin infections, said Dr. Jon Tillinghast, TB control officer for the state Health Department. Health Department officials tested contacts of the man, who has since been cured. The man worked in a restaurant for three weeks while he was sick, but most of the 100 people infected were family members and friends, Tillinghast said.
All of the patients -- who live in Jackson, Tillman and Comanche counties -- are receiving medicine that should cure the disease and prevent it from becoming active. Health officials normally deal with about one TB outbreak each year in Oklahoma, but the number of people infected during the outbreak is usually fewer than 10. "This is more than what we usually see," Tillinghast said. "It's really just a matter of completing adequate therapy. It's treatable. It's curable. It's preventable."
The state Health Department and the three county health departments tested more than 600 people after the man who started the outbreak was diagnosed, Tillinghast said. The man moved to Oklahoma from another state to live with relatives, then stayed with family members in the three counties during a span of several months. Health officials said it is standard procedure to undertake a testing initiative after interviewing someone with TB. Officials have tested the majority of people who might have been exposed to the disease.
03.23.02; Jennifer L. Brown
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.