Two cases of tuberculosis trigger outbreak in Yellowknife

NWT Health Authority's newly designated Campus of Care in Yellowknife, with the old hospital in foreground. (James O'Connor/CKLB.)

The NWT’s acting chief public health officer, Dr. André Corriveau has declared a tuberculosis outbreak in Yellowknife after two cases were found in the city.

Dr. Corriveau broke the news this morning on CBC’s The Trailbreaker.

He said the first case was identified over a week ago, and then a second case presented itself over the long weekend and was confirmed to be related to the first one.

These two cases are also linked to other cases from 2020 and 2023.

Dr. Corriveau told CKLB News in an email that “tuberculosis is a very old disease, and new cases are uncovered every year in the NWT.”

Due to the nature of the disease, symptoms may take months or even years to show.

“At the moment there is nothing for the public to do but stay informed and be aware of the signs and symptoms of tuberculosis,” he says. “ Public Health conducts extensive contact investigations and will connect with any people identified as contacts of cases with active TB disease.”

However, Yellowknife Public Health is on a reduced service and doesn’t have the current resources to respond to the outbreak. Which means do not seek care unless it is urgent.

“TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. TB disease can also reach other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, but these forms of illness are usually not infectious. TB is most likely to spread to close contacts who spend time together every day, or for long periods of time.”