May 15, 2018 - The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is continuing to manage an outbreak of tuberculosis. To date, TBDHU has identified nine cases of active tuberculosis in Thunder Bay associated with this outbreak. Most cases identified to date have occurred in individuals who lack adequate housing. TBDHU staff have identified and are continuing to screen individuals who may have been exposed to active tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and is treated with antibiotics. Tuberculosis is spread through the air when a person with the disease talks, smokes, coughs, sings, or sneezes. Tuberculosis is not very contagious, and most people who come into contact with a person with disease do not get infected with the bacteria.
If a person does get infected with M. tuberculosis bacteria, they can develop either asymptomatic, latent tuberculosis infection or symptomatic, active tuberculosis disease. Latent tuberculosis is not contagious and is diagnosed with a tuberculin skin test. About 5 to 10% of people who have latent tuberculosis will develop active tuberculosis sometime in their life.
“Because of the outbreak, we expect that there are more people with latent tuberculosis in our community now,” says Dr. Emily Groot, Associate Medical Officer of Health at the TBDHU. “Individuals with latent tuberculosis can develop active tuberculosis, so we may see future cases of tuberculosis related to this outbreak over the next few years.”
TBDHU is working with community partners to ensure quick identification and management of cases, as well as enhancing testing and treatment for latent infections.
TBDHU is continuing to receive support from Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in investigating and managing this outbreak.
For more information:
Health Unit Media Line 625-8800
1-888-294-6630, extension 8800