Health of­fi­cials is­sue warn­ing on TB

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - JONNY WAKE­FIELD jwake­field@post­media.com

Fifty-one peo­ple may have been ex­posed to tu­ber­cu­lo­sis at two Ed­mon­ton Catholic schools, but Al­berta Health Ser­vices says there is no risk to the gen­eral pub­lic.

In a news re­lease Wed­nes­day, AHS con­firmed it has no­ti­fied 51 peo­ple who were “po­ten­tially ex­posed” to a con­firmed case of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis at two Ed­mon­ton-area schools that were not named.

Both schools are in the Ed­mon­ton Catholic school dis­trict, spokesper­son Dana Pre­fontaine con­firmed, but she could not iden­tify the schools or grade lev­els for pri­vacy rea­sons.

No­ti­fi­ca­tion let­ters have been sent to peo­ple who were po­ten­tially ex­posed con­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion about screen­ing and treat­ment op­tions.

Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis is a po­ten­tially deadly in­fec­tion that at­tacks the lungs.

AHS of­fi­cials say there is a low risk of trans­mit­ting the disease, and that only those who have re­ceived let­ters are con­sid­ered ex­posed. There is no risk to ei­ther school.

AHS re­leased in­for­ma­tion about the ex­po­sures “as a mat­ter of trans­parency.” How­ever, the schools are not be­ing named to pro­tect pa­tient con­fi­den­tial­ity, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease.

“If we iden­tify the schools, that nar­rows down the pool of po­ten­tial pa­tients,” AHS spokes­woman Kirsten Goruk said.

The province’s TB Ser­vices and Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Disease Con­trol teams and the Ed­mon­ton Zone Med­i­cal Officer of Health are pro­vid­ing fol­lowup screen­ing.

There have been 19 con­firmed cases of pul­monary tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in Al­berta this year, not in­clud­ing cases di­ag­nosed on in­dige­nous re­serves. Ten of those were in the Ed­mon­ton health zone and six were in Cal­gary.

A vac­cine known as BCG is used to pre­vent the spread of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in some parts of the world, but has not proved ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing the spread of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in North Amer­ica and is not rou­tinely used, ac­cord­ing to health of­fi­cials.

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