Tuberculosis case identified in Antigonish, public health says
'The risk to the general population is low,' says Nova Scotia Health Authority official
Public health officials have identified a case of tuberculosis in Antigonish, N.S.
The patient is connected to a school in the community, but for privacy reasons, officials are not saying which one.
Dr. Lynda Earle, acting medical health officer with the Nova Scotia Health Authority's eastern zone, said the patient is being treated and others who may have been in contact are being monitored.
"The risk to the general population is low from this identified case," she said. "We have followed up with all those who may have previously been exposed and we've ensured that no new people are being exposed."
Tuberculosis is contagious, but not as much as the measles, for example, said Earle.
"It's always understandable that people might be concerned about that when they hear about a case, but the risk to communities and to individuals travelling through the area is low," she said.
People have to have prolonged contact with a patient before they can contract tuberculosis, Earle said.
The disease is relatively uncommon in Nova Scotia, she said, but a few cases are identified every year.
Earle said members of the public need not be concerned.
"Tuberculosis is preventable, it's treatable and it is curable," she said.
"We now have well-defined antibiotic regimens that we can treat individuals with once they are diagnosed."
Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is one of a number of diseases that are notifiable, meaning that doctors have to report them to public health when a case is diagnosed.
According to the Department of Health and Wellness, someone can be infected with tuberculosis, but not have the disease. If untreated, it can be deadly.
Earle said tracing the source of the infection is part of the process, but with tuberculosis, it is possible to carry the bacteria for years without being contagious and without showing symptoms.
It is not yet known how the Antigonish patient contracted the disease, she said, and sometimes the answer is never found.
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