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New and better tools needed to fight TB, Health Unit says

SIMCOE, ON, MARCH 11, 2010 -One out of three people around the world who become sick with tuberculosis don’t get timely and accurate diagnosis or effective treatment for the disease, says the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
“Even though global rates of illness and death from TB have declined each year since 2004, more resources are needed not only to help create new and better TB drugs, diagnostic tests and vaccines, but to help make TB services more accessible and efficient globally,” said Eva Bellekom, a Public Health Nurse with the Communicable Disease Team.
The Health Unit is raising the issue in connection with World TB Day on March 24, a date that marks the halfway point for the Global Plan to Stop TB. The plan, initiated in 2006, is to cut TB prevalence and death rates in half by 2015. In Canada, the goal is to reach 3.6 cases per 100,000 population compared to the 1990 Canadian rate of 7.2 per 100,000.
“Canada has one of the lowest rates of tuberculosis in the world,” Bellekom pointed out, “but Ontario has the most TB cases of any province with about one-third of Canadian TB cases living in the greater Toronto area. New, innovative ways are needed to reach all men, women and children who are sick with TB, whoever they are or wherever they live.”
The Health Unit is encouraging people to find out more about World TB Day 2010 activities by visitingwww.stoptb.orgor to learn more about Canada’s role in the fight to stop TB by visitingwww.stoptb.ca.
Tuberculosis is spread from person to person when someone with the disease coughs, talks, sings or sneezes, spraying the TB germs into the air. Often these germs will infect and stay in the lungs, but they can infect other areas, too. Some people can carry the germ without becoming sick and are not contagious. The best way to prevent the spread of the disease is to treat and cure people who have become infected with it.
Symptoms of TB may include a cough lasting longer than three weeks, coughing up phlegm and/or blood, weight loss, feeling tired, sweating at night, fever and chills.
Additional information about TB can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website atwww.health.gov.on.caor by contacting a member of the Health Unit’s Communicable Disease Team at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.

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Media contact:
Eva Bellekom, Public Health Nurse
Communicable Disease Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3304 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623