SIMCOE, ON, MARCH 19, 2012 – March 24 is World TB Day, and while much focus is on eliminating tuberculosis (TB) in third world countries, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit wants people to take notice here as well.
Five cases of latent TB have been identified in the Haldimand-Norfolk area in the past year.
“It might be surprising to people, but we do see cases of TB in our area,” said Tamara Robb, a Public Health Nurse with the Health Unit’s Infectious Disease Team. “Also, most people have travelled, or know someone who has travelled internationally, or they may be exposed elsewhere and bring it home, so we need to keep paying attention to this disease here as well.”
TB is prevalent around the globe because 83% of the world does not have access to a cure. Consequently, the disease claims between two million and three million lives each year.
Although Canada has one of the lowest rates of tuberculosis in the world, the disease is still a threat in this country. The Canadian goal is to reduce the 1990 TB incidence rate of 7.2 cases per 100,000 Canadians to 3.6 by 2015. The most recent data shows a Canadian rate of 4.7 cases per 100,000 people.
“The theme this year is ‘Stop TB in my Lifetime’, and people are encouraged to visit www.mystoptb.org to create their own posters or personal videos,” noted Robb. “These videos can then be shared on YouTube, Facebook, or other social sites online.”
World TB Day is promoted by the World Health Organization and other public health organizations to raise awareness and encourage research and investment in prevention and cure of the disease.
TB is caused by bacteria that can affect your lungs or other parts of your body such as brain, lymph nodes or kidneys. These germs can lie dormant or asleep, which is called a latent TB infection. Latent TB germs do not make you sick, cannot be passed on to other people, and can be cured with treatment.
If you fail to get treatment however, it can get worse, as latent TB infection can turn into active TB disease at any time. Active TB disease causes damage in the body and may lead to a cough lasting longer than three weeks, weight loss, night sweats, loss of appetite, fatigue, pain in the chest and coughing up blood.
People with active TB disease spread TB germs in the air by coughing, laughing, sneezing, singing, or talking. TB germs can stay in the air for hours. When people breathe air infected with TB germs, they bring the germs into their lungs.
“Luckily, TB disease is preventable, treatable and curable,” pointed out Robb.
Both a skin test and a blood test are available that are used to help detect a TB infection.
For more information regarding tuberculosis, visit the health unit’s website at www.hnhu.org.
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Public Health Nurse – Infectious Disease Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3251 at either 519.426.6170 or 905.318.6623