TB centre saved
AN INFECTIOUS case of tuberculosis diagnosed in Mossman has been a political catalyst in saving the critical Queensland Tuberculosis Control Centre in Brisbane from being closed by the State Government.
Although the diagnosis occurred late last year when an indigenous man, a drifter, travelled around Queensland with a highly-infectious strand of TB before being diagnosed in Mossman, the case has been publicised to raise awareness of possible exposure and also to highlight the need for the TBCC to remain open.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg made the decision to keep the centre open at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital after failing to provide an adequate reason as to why the facility should close before an Estimates Hearing last week.
Director of thoracic medicine in the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Dr Stephen Vincent said the Mossman case highlighted the importance of the facility.
Dr Vincent said the man has been successfully treated and was currently in the southeast corner of Queensland and several other people from across the state, including Mossman, who were infected or exposed, have been treated or given preventative treatment.
“He stayed with one or two friends in Mossman and we’ve done contact tracing but there’s probably other places he may have been we’re unaware of, so there’s always a chance some people are infected that we don’t know about,” he said.
“They can either become infected and not sick or there’s always a chance they become infected then develop symptoms of TB anywhere from the initial infection up to two years later.
“It’s impossible to work out exactly who, the chances of him infecting others depends on how long they’ve been in contact with him, it’s more close household contacts, friends and family members.”
The man also spent time in Hopevale and Wujal Wujal. Five people have been to known to have caught TB from this case and around 200 people have been exposed across the state, begging the question of why the public was not made aware of the case when it was diagnosed last year.
“They don’t really need to be informed for this sort of outbreak because it’s a contained one, the TBCC was able to get on top of it so the main reason why it was brought out was because the Government was potentially closing down the TBCC, which would make these sorts of cases hard to manage,” Dr Vincent said.
“If people are presenting symptoms of TB - night sweats, unexplained weight loss, coughing up blood then they should present themselves to their GP.”
Dr Vincent said people at high risk of contracting TB are those of indigenous background and those with diabetes, cancer or suffering malnutrition.
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