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soldiers & tb

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    "Soldiers at Risk for Contracting TB"
    Associated Press (03.24.03)
    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.

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