Health officials in Canada have announced an outbreak of tuberculosis in northern Saskatchewan, and at least 20 people were receiving treatment for the disease as of October 8, according to Primary Health Care Canada.
The Athabasca Health Authority (AHA) has now declared a tuberculosis outbreak. Bacterial outbreaks have been reported in the Black Lake and Fond Du Lac communities.
As of Tuesday, nine people have been treated at Fond du Lac, according to Chief Primary Health Officer Taio Olobano. Officials also reported 70 close contacts.
“[These communities] have been challenged with housing issues, overcrowded living conditions, and social determinants of health that has led to disproportionate impact of illnesses like #TB:” @NnamdiNdubukahttps://t.co/jKR3TYLCZf
— Canadian Paediatric Society (@CanPaedSociety) October 9, 2021
Six people were treated at Black Lake, with 157 identified as being in close contact. About 90.5% are considered to have a high risk of transmission.
Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease spread by bacterial infections. According to Olubano, all patients range in age from just five weeks to 63 years old. Overcrowded families may have contributed to the outbreak.
In response to the outbreak, the AHA doubled the number of outreach workers. There is also a hotline for people to call and get additional support.
“We want to empower and provide more education and more support so they can be part of the treatment plan and intervention planning,” Ulubanu told CTV News. “We don’t want to do that independently without assessing their needs.”
News of the outbreak comes on the heels of scientists identifying two new types of bovine tuberculosis in Dordogne, France.
A total of 27 outbreaks of bovine tuberculosis were discovered in the region in southwest France, during an investigation from 2020 to 2021.
The symptoms of tuberculosis are very similar to “Covid-19”, as both diseases attack the lungs.
According to the NHS, symptoms include a persistent cough with phlegm and sometimes blood, weight loss, night sweats and high temperatures.
TB patients may also experience loss of appetite, fever, and a swollen neck. Symptoms usually last for more than three weeks.
The responsible bacteria are spread through tiny droplets of body fluid released when you cough or sneeze.
In Canada, Olobano suggested that infected patients be more careful not to catch “Covid” as well.
He said, “Note that close monitoring with the necessary support will help prevent potential poor treatment outcomes that may characterize TB patients who may test positive for COVID-19.”