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Paul Rhien
505-470-2290 Office

Decline in Tuberculosis Reported


The New Mexico Department of Health’s (NMDOH) Tuberculosis Program reports there has been a sharp drop in the rate of tuberculosis (TB) in the state over the last two decades. Between 1996 and 2017, New Mexico saw TB decrease by 66%. Last year, the total number of New Mexicans diagnosed and treated with infectious TB was 37. That’s compared to 89 persons with TB 21 years ago; TB rates now being at their lowest point on record in New Mexico and the United States.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria that usually attack the lungs, but can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: TB infection and TB disease. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

NMDOH’s Tuberculosis TeleECHO Clinic and Project ECHO at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center are today celebrating three years of using telehealth to improve access to high-quality TB care in New Mexico. Through this partnership, the state is able to utilize video conferencing to link the public health nurses throughout the state with the TB Medical Director and TB Nurse Consultant Team to promote best practices in the care and Nurse Case Management of persons with active TB in New Mexico.

“New Mexico stands at the edge of the opportunity to essentially eliminate TB in our state,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “This is a success built on years of collaboration with health providers statewide.”

The news comes just days before World TB Day. The annual health observance, celebrated each year on March 24th, commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced what was then a life-changing scientific breakthrough in which he had discovered TB bacillus, the root cause of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.

To halt the spread of TB in its tracks, patients must be medically treated before they become infectious. To reach the goal of TB Elimination in New Mexico, the Department of Health’s TB Program aims to enlist the help of community providers to screen persons at risk for TB infection and progression to active TB disease.

This June, the Department of Health’s TB Program & Project ECHO will launch its newest TeleECHO program aimed at community providers that treat persons with TB infection in New Mexico.

The TB Program will continue to provide diagnosis and care for all persons with active infectious TB in New Mexico. As the number of TB cases decreases in New Mexico, it is increasingly important to remember to “THINK TB”. If you have a persistent cough that will not go away ask your doctor to see if you should be tested for TB.

Further, NMDOH has created a TB Helpline to assist providers with questions about testing and treating TB. The Helpline can be accessed at 505-827-2471.

For more information, visit the Tuberculosis Prevention section of our website.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Paul Rhien at 505-470-2290 (Office) with your questions.


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