Alaska Ranks Third in US for Rate of TB

Rosemary Shinohara, Anchorage Daily News, December 4, 2009

Alaska continued to have one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the country last year, with 50 new cases for a rate of 7.4 cases per 100,000 people, the state reported this week.

The national average in 2008 was 4.2 cases per 100,000. Only Hawaii and the District of Columbia had higher rates than Alaska.

Alaska Natives, widely infected in the first half of the 20th century, are still suffering disproportionately from TB today, said Dr. Beth Funk, the state’s tuberculosis control officer.

Between 1999 and 2008, 65 percent of the Alaska TB cases occurred in Alaska Natives.

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Rates among children are also higher in Alaska than elsewhere.

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Asians and Pacific Islanders, primarily Filipinos, are also infected at higher rates than others in Alaska. They make up 21 percent of the cases from 1999 to 2008.

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Alaska’s tuberculosis rate was the same in 2007 and 2008, but over 10 years shows a downward trend, Funk said.

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