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National News

Iraq: Soldiers at Risk for Contracting TB

March 25, 2003

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Large numbers of Iraqi soldiers and civilians are infected with tuberculosis and pose a long-term health risk to allied forces, said Dr. Paul Dungan, director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, at a World TB Day conference in Oklahoma City Monday. "That's not well-publicized. But our troops over there are at risk," he said. Dr. Jon Tillinghast, TB control officer for the state Health Department, said he expects all military personnel to be tested immediately upon returning from overseas -- and a second time three months later.

One-third of the world's population has some level of TB infection. Most have a latent infection. Only 5 percent to 10 percent of people with TB will progress to the active form of the disease -- 20,000 people every day, according to the latest world health data. People with latent TB are not contagious.

More than 4,000 Oklahoma National Military Guard members and reservists are serving overseas, and other Oklahoma military personnel are stationed in the Middle East and Europe. Forces fighting in Iraq have a greater risk of contracting TB than troops stationed in the Persian Gulf during 1991's Operation Desert Storm because they will likely be there longer and in closer contact with larger numbers of Iraqi soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians, Tillinghast said.

"We can't forget that Oklahoma has an ongoing TB problem," said Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch. About 200 Oklahoma cases are reported annually to the Health Department, with at least 10 deaths a year attributed to the disease. An outbreak in southwest Oklahoma in 2001 and 2002 resulted in 38 cases. Officials from the Health Department, CDC and local health departments in Comanche, Jackson and Tillman counties continue to monitor that outbreak.

Back to other CDC news for March 25, 2003

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
03.24.03

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
See Also
Tuberculosis (TB) Fact Sheet
Questions and Answers About Tuberculosis
More News on Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS

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