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TB still a threat in Canada, Health Unit says

SIMCOE, ON, MARCH 13, 2009 – Although Canada has one of the lowest rates of tuberculosis in the world, the disease is still a threat in this country, says the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

“There is a new TB case every six hours in Canada,” noted Stacey Guthrie, a Public Health Nurse with the
Communicable Disease Team. “That’s why we’re urging the public to remain vigilant against the disease during World TB Day on March 24.”

The Health Unit is encouraging people to find out about World TB Day activities around the world by visiting website www.stoptb.org or to learn about Canada’s role in the fight to stop TB by checking www.stoptb.ca.

“TB is prevalent around the globe because 83% of the world does not have access to a cure,” Guthrie pointed out. “Consequently, the disease claims between two million and three million lives each year.”

World TB Day is promoted by the World Health Organization and Stop TB to raise awareness and encourage research and investment in prevention and cure of the disease.

Tuberculosis germs are spread when someone with the disease coughs, sneezes or talks. Often the germs reside in the lungs, but they can infect other areas. Some people can carry the germ without contracting the disease or being contagious.

Symptoms of the disease may include a cough lasting longer than three weeks, weight loss, night sweats, loss of appetite, fatigue, pain in the chest and coughing up blood. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention. Tuberculosis can be treated and prevented.

The Canadian goal is to reduce the 1990 incidence rate of 7.2 per 100,000 population to 3.6 by 2015, which would require a 3.5 per cent decrease annually.

“The Stop TB campaign is challenging health care professionals to increase our TB prevention and control as well as focus on populations most at risk of contracting the disease,” Guthrie said.

Additional information about TB can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website at www.health.gov.on.ca or by contacting a member of the Health Unit’s Communicable Disease Team at 519-426-6170 or 905-426-6623.

Media contact:
Stacey Guthrie, Public Health Nurse
Communicable Disease Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3270 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3270