hi-bc-archive-tuberculosis-bacteria

Tuberculosis bacteria is shown under an electron microscope. Three cases of the respiratory infection have been identified in southern Saskatchewan this month.

Two more cases of tuberculosis among school-age children have been reported in Saskatchewan.

The first case, associated with a student from St. Augustine School, was reported earlier this week in Regina.

Now there's a second case of the respiratory infection being investigated in connection with F.W. Johnson Collegiate and Winston Knoll Collegiate in the city. Health officials have confirmed the third case is in Moose Jaw at Central Collegiate.

Dr. Denise Werker, the province's deputy chief medical health officer, said people who have prolonged contact with someone with TB can be infected. Werker said the three cases involve school-aged kids that are considered a risk to infect others.

Testing clinics being set up

There are tuberculosis-testing clinics at the Regina General Hospital and the Moose Jaw Union Hospital.

Once school resumes, there will be a testing clinic set up at Winston Knoll Collegiate in Regina. It will not be mandatory to get tested, but it is encouraged.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, night sweats and weight loss.

There is a latency period between when someone is infected with tuberculosis and when it becomes active, so there's no way to tell when a person caught the disease. It could be years or even decades ago.

Tuberculosis is curable with antibiotics, but it's important to diagnose it early.

The size of potential contact for these students is unusual. Since the students who are infected go to school, officials are sending out a few thousand letters to people they may have come in contact with.

"There will be letters going out to persons that have been identified in the school who are close contacts and also letters going out to the school population at large, just to let them know that they're not at risk," said Werker.

Werker adds, that just because someone is infected, does not mean they are infectious — or a risk to others.

Cases not related

She does not believe the three cases are connected in any way.

Each year in Saskatchewan about 80 cases of the disease are diagnosed. More than half of the cases are diagnosed in people who live in Northern Saskatchewan.

On average, the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region has 11 cases of tuberculosis that are diagnosed each year.

There are higher rates of tuberculosis in First Nations and Northern populations. Officials are trying to increase education and provide more access to testing and treatment for these groups.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated that those who were in close contact with the people infected with Tuberculosis would be getting letters notifying them they are at risk, when actually they are not at risk.
    Aug 14, 2014 3:49 PM CT