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Fourth tuberculosis case reported

Jessica Klinkenberg
Northern News Services
Friday, August 3, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - A fourth case of tuberculosis has been reported five months after health officials were alerted to a man staying at the Salvation Army who had the disease.

Whether there are more should be known soon as the last of the test results come in, according to Damien Healy, communications manager for Health and Social Services.

2007 TB cases

March 2007: A man staying at the Salvation Army is found to have TB.

May 2007: "Several hundred" people tested that may have been in touch with the individual. Two new cases are discovered.

August 2007: Health and Social Services reveals that a fourth TB case was discovered in July.

The case that touched off a massive round of testing in the city and in communities as far away as Nunavut originated with a man staying at the Salvation Army in March.

Approximately 360 people, including RCMP officers, paramedics, and health workers who may have came in contact with the person were tested but Health and Social Services is still awaiting some results.

Mass testing ensued in 23 NWT communities as well as in communities in Nunavut and Alberta.

The most recent case was a close contact to the original patient so no additional testing will be necessary, said Dr. Andre Corriveau, chief medical officer for the NWT.

The new case was discovered during the second round of contact testing, he said, adding that the testing was done procedurally and not with any added sense of urgency.

"I don't view it as aggressive... it's our standard approach," he said.

"But if someone were to compare (us to the south) they might describe it that way."

Corriveau said that it's good news that so few confirmed cases have come up so far.

"I think it's very good news overall at this point, (but) they haven't finished yet," he said.

The man with the original case of TB was at a hospital in Edmonton during the initial outbreak, but is now back in the NWT, Corriveau said.

Due to confidentiality, he couldn't say why the man was quarantined in Edmonton.

"It seemed appropriate at the time. It's usually not me who makes the decision, it's the physician on the case who makes the decision," he explained.

Tuberculosis is a mainly a respiratory ailment that attacks the lungs although it can also affect the central nervous and circulatory systems. It can be spread through coughing, sneezing, spitting, and even unsterilized eating utensils. However, it typically requires prolonged, frequent and intense contact.

It is often deadly if left untreated.

Corriveau said that he will make a report available on what happened during the outbreak once all of the information from the second round of testing has been collected.