Don't share smokes: Nunatsiavut awareness campaign ahead of World Tuberculosis Day

The Nunatsiavut government's Department of Health and Social Development is spreading awareness about how the disease can be spread.

TB outbreaks seen in northern Labrador's teens, young adults

World Tuberculosis Day is March 24. (iStock)

The Nunatsiavut government is spreading awareness about tuberculosis in a new campaign geared toward youth.

The campaign — which launched Wednesday in preparation for World Tuberculosis Day on March 24 — is in response to outbreaks of the disease among teens and young adults in Nain and Hopedale over the past couple of years. 

"I think one of the key messages that we want to get across in our campaign is that smoking devices — such as third lungs, bongs, cigarettes — are high-risk activities for spreading TB disease," Sylvia Doody, director of health services for the Department of of Health and Social Development, told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

 "If you are using these smoking devices, please do not share."

Smoking devices — such as third lungs, bongs, cigarettes — are high-risk activities for spreading TB disease.- Sylvia Doody, Director of Health Services

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, and mainly affects the lungs. It is spread through the air when a person with active TB coughs, speaks, spits or sneezes, as well as through the sharing of products.

"So what we're trying to do is raise awareness about how it's spread so that people can take measures to protect themselves and their families," Doody added.

Involving youth

There are two categories of people who are at a high risk of getting tuberculosis: people who have recently been infected with the bacteria and people with weakened immune systems. 

"Oftentimes we see babies and young children who may have weakened immune systems, people with HIV infection, substance abuse, diabetes, those sort of things," she said.

Vanessa Flowers of Hopedale designed the logo for the Nunatsiavut tuberculosis awareness campaign. (Vanessa Flowers/Nunatsiavut Government)

To get young people involved in the campaign, the department held a contest for designing a logo. Vanessa Flowers of Hopedale submitted the winning entry.

Doody said they also have promotional items youth said they would actually use and posters in various communities. 

"We work with our partner, Labrador Grenfell Health, to respond to outbreaks in our communities, and part of that is through contact tracing, delivery of direct-observe medications, providing the education and awareness to our communities," Doody said.

"Also providing support to families with any support that they may need in terms of answering their questions, facilitating them coming to appointments, and helping out in any way that we can to support the work that we do locally from a public health perspective."