Screening continues as 31 diagnosed with active TB in Pangnirtung, Nunavut

An outbreak of tuberculosis declared six months ago has now spread to 31 people in the Baffin Island community. A further 108 have been diagnosed with latent TB, which can also be treated.

Outbreak declared six months ago has since spread

Pangnirtung, Nunavut, has a population of about 1,600. (Emily Ridlington/CBC)

Six months after an outbreak was declared in the Baffin Island community, 31 people have been identified with active tuberculosis and 108 have been diagnosed with latent TB. 

Announcing the Pangnirtung outbreak in November, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said the declaration was prompted by a growing number of TB patients in the community of about 1,600 that could not be linked to previously known cases. 

Tuberculosis is a treatable illness and those with symptoms are urged to get screened at the health centre. 

Symptoms include a cough that lasts longer than three weeks, feeling very tired, a loss of appetite, and a fever or night sweats.

Latent TB can also be treated to prevent it from becoming active. 

Nunavut does not typically report cases of tuberculosis by community, believing that stigma around the disease persists. 

Earlier this year, the territory's privacy commissioner said more transparency around the illness is needed, including the sharing of statistics that show which demographics are affected by the illness.

Tuberculosis has been a scourge in Nunavut for decades.

Hopes were high when the federal government announced in 2018 that it would eliminate TB in Inuit communities by 2030.

Two years later, rates of TB had barely changed and funding for the project had dried up.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further delayed efforts to eliminate the disease.