March 24, 2019 - World Tuberculosis Day 2019 Each year on March 24, World Tuberculosis Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about Tuberculosis and its impacts. This is particularly relevant this year – one year after a Tuberculosis outbreak was declared in the City of Thunder Bay.
Since the beginning of March 2018, the outbreak investigation identified 11 cases of active tuberculosis in the community, and many cases of latent tuberculosis, with most cases occurring in individuals who lacked adequate housing.
Throughout the year, the TBDHU worked with community partners to support individuals through the lengthy treatment for tuberculosis and to offer screening and treatment for tuberculosis to individuals who were under-housed or experiencing homelessness and may have been exposed to individuals with active TB.
An enhanced TB program was implemented, and, through the work of the Health Unit Infectious Diseases and Street Nursing teams, the TBDHU will continue to identify and screen contacts of active cases and offer treatment and support. Focus now has shifted to identifying those with latent tuberculosis who are at risk of developing active TB in the future. Unfortunately, future cases in this population are likely.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is treated with a lengthy course of 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. The risk to the general public is very low.
“Each year on March 24, World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is recognized with the goal of raising awareness of TB and its consequences,” says Diana Gowanlock. Manager Infectious Disease Program at the TBDHU. “This year we will be distributing a newsletter to health care providers to inform them of the status of the outbreak as well as highlight new resources and treatment options. As we move forward to identify any other individuals in need of treatment, we appreciate the ongoing support of our community partners in our efforts.”
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