TB cen­tre saved

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

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.

THRILL OF THE CHASE: fish­er­men from around the world will com­pete in the Port Dou­glas Marlin Chal­lenge

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