SANTA FE (AP) - Cases of active tuberculosis have stayed steady in New Mexico, but health officials say the mortality rate among some minority populations in the state is four times the national average.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there were 10,521 cases of active tuberculosis in the United States in 2011. That's a 6 percent decline from the previous year. By contrast, New Mexico had 49 cases in both 2010 and 2011.
Native Americans and Mexican-born Hispanics in New Mexico have a 16 percent mortality rate, versus 4 percent nationally, New Mexico Department of Health's Tuberculosis Program said.
One health official said the number of New Mexico cases is actually lower in comparison to other states, but the mortality rates are higher because of delayed diagnosis and patients waiting too long to seek treatment.
"A lot of physicians are not as familiar with tuberculosis and its symptoms," said Diana Fortune, who heads the New Mexico Health Department's tuberculosis program. "With Native Americans, they do have health care available, but whether it's accessible is another thing. It may not be easy to get to."
The mortality rate also is higher among the Mexican-born population because they likely wait before seeking treatment, Fortune added.
State health officials are planning a public information session Friday in Santa Fe on prevention and treatment of the bacterial infection that mostly affects the lungs.
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