Hundreds tested for tuberculosis in Cape Breton after 2 cases confirmed
Published Tuesday, February 13, 2018 8:17PM AST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 13, 2018 8:28PM AST
The Nova Scotia Health Authority says it is not sounding the alarm after two cases of tuberculosis were confirmed in Sydney.
The health authority confirms a patient who had the disease was at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital between Sept. 22 and 25.
“My suspicion would be that no one knew that this person had tuberculosis,” says physician Dr. Margaret Fraser. “It's not something that's top of mind for most physicians when you’re seeing someone with a cough, unless they have very specific symptoms.”
As a result, more than 200 patients, staff and physicians are being screened for the disease.
“In some investigations we might have a small number, some we might have more. This one is a relatively a large number. But certainly it's not something unexpected,” says Dr. Eilish Cleary, Medical Officer of Health for Eastern Zone.
CTV News reached out to the Nova Scotia Nurses Union Tuesday, who said they're monitoring the situation and should their members express concern about their well-being, they will become more actively involved.
“We are pretty well at three quarters complete of the testing. A follow up is ongoing. We have a few more that we have identified, so we err on the side of caution and the safety of staff and physicians,” says Tom MacNeil, director of Occupational Health and Safety.
So far, no physicians or staff have active tuberculosis. But many are wondering why it took so long for tests to be done.
“If you do become exposed to tuberculosis, it does take several weeks, even up to a couple of months for tests to become positive. So it's not something that has to be done immediately,” Dr. Elish Cleary said.
Health Canada states tuberculosis is rare in Canada, with only 1,600 new cases of active tuberculosis every year.
Tuberculosis affects the lungs and can be contagious. But the heath authority says the risk of infection is low.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.