Nfld. & Labrador

Tuberculosis outbreak has Nain woman calling for widespread screening

Emma Kalleo of Nain is calling for widespread screening efforts in the wake of an outbreak of tuberculosis in the northern Labrador town.

Labrador-Grenfell Health has confirmed 20 cases

A resident of Nain is calling for a more comprehensive screening program following the latest outbreak of tuberculosis. (Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press)

A woman from Nain has called for widespread screening efforts in the wake of another outbreak of tuberculosis in the northern Labrador town.

Labrador-Grenfell Health says there are now 20 confirmed cases, up from 16 in April.

All cases have either completed their treatment and are cured, or they are currently receiving treatment.

The health authority said the number of cases was expected to increase as a result of efforts to identify and treat individuals who are diagnosed with TB.

Nain has a population of roughly 1,200 residents, and half have been screened.

Emma Kalleo says that's not enough — and she wants everyone tested.

Kalleo collected nearly 350 names recently on a petition, and has forwarded it to officials with the Nunatsiavut and federal governments.

If everyone were tested, she said, it would help contain some of the fear and panic that has gripped the community.

"Some older people are stuck in their homes and scared to go out," she said.

Kalleo said some people are volunteering to keep themselves isolated, especially those who contracted TB during earlier outbreaks.

She questions why another outbreak, similar to one that occurred just six years ago, was even possible.

"They're supposed to have a strategy and they don't even use the strategy," she told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

"It makes me wonder what they're dong with the federal government money to keep this under control."

Clinics ongoing in Nain

Labrador-Grenfell Health says it continues to hold TB clinics at the health centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for follow-up of all TB cases and contacts.

In Nain, public health nurses are also doing follow-ups.

Assessment clinics are also being held at the clinic in Nain for people wanting to be assessed.

Health officials are encouraging anyone experiencing symptoms such as fever, night sweats, coughing and weight loss to seek medical attention.

Meanwhile, health officials in Labrador said Friday it's not necessary for an exhaustive testing program.

They said a "contact tracing" program is being followed, whereby those have have had close contact with those infected with TB are tested. If they also test positive, the testing is expanded even further.

Tina Buckle, the community health nursing co-ordinator for the Nunatsiavut government, said anyone concerned about their well-being can ask for an assessment at the clinic in Nain.

"There is an avenue for people who have concerns," Buckle said.

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