Nunavut has seen a few recent cases of tuberculosis, an airborne disease which often springs up around the north around this time of year.
Chief Public Health Officer of Nunavut Dr. Kim Barker says last year saw a larger outbreak than the territory expected, so they’ve decided to be proactive this year.
Last year we had quite a few cases and so as a result we’ve decided that we’re going to need to do something a bit more extensive. That’s why we’ve decided to go into one of the communities where there’s quite a few cases called Qikiqtarjuaq and we’re going to just do community wide screening.
The Northwest Territories’ usually sees roughly 9 cases per 100,000 people, with Indigenous and older populations having a higher rate of contracting the disease.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories Dr. Kami Kandola says that the NWT’s rates of tuberculosis are seemingly on the way down.
She says people who contract TB don’t appear symptomatic right away, and early treatment of the disease is imperative.
If you have ten people in a room and one person has TB but it’s not infectious and you treat that person, no one else will get exposed. But if you don’t treat that person, and if they go on to develop active TB they can go on to spread it to ten people who then spread it to ten more when they become active. So the key to bringing down the rate is to try to treat it when it’s not infectious.
Kandola says screening and treatment is routinely made available to those exposed to TB from others and in high risk positions like health and mining, and the testing and treatment are available in every northern community.