Nunavik health officials to start mass X-rays in Kangiqsualujjuaq
All residents 15 and older invited for screening
To cope with a continuing tuberculosis outbreak, the Nunavik public health department and the Ungava Tullattivik Health centre will offer chest X-rays to all Kangiqsualujjuaq residents over the age of 15, starting July 23, the Nunavik health board said July 12 in a news release.
As of July 11, health officials reported 67 TB cases in Kangiqsualujjuaq, whose population stands at around 800. Many of the cases involve young adults and adolescents.
They’ve also recorded eight cases in Salluit and one in Kangiqsujuaq, bringing Nunavik’s total to an alarming 76 cases so far in 2012.
In 2010, the region reported only 12 TB cases. That number rose to 27 in 2011.
“This outbreak is consistent with the tendency observed over the past few years toward a rise in the number of cases of active tuberculosis in both Nunavut and Nunavik,” the health board said.
Kangiqsualujjuaq residents will start receiving mailed invitations to have X-rays taken at the local CLSC (health centre.)
“The screening will then continue house by house at a rate of approximately 40 residents per day. The order of households will be announced over the radio each day,” the board said.
The X-ray program, which is safe and painless, will continue until mid-August.
“We will set up all the measures to ensure the community’s safety. Those measures will without a doubt contribute to controlling and slowing down the spread of tuberculosis,” Dr. Serge Déry, the Nunavik director of public health, said in the news release.
The symptoms of TB include:
• a major cough that lasts for more than three weeks;
• loss of appetite;
• night sweats;
• weight loss;
• expectoration — the bringing up of phlegm from the lungs.
According to the World Health Organization, each person with active TB can infect 10 to 15 people a year, on average.
Most people infected with the tuberculosis bacillus, or germ, don’t become ill or even know they are infected, because the germ can lie dormant in a person’s lungs for many years.
But, without treatment, TB can eventually kill by gradually eating away at the lungs or, in rare cases, by spreading to other organs.
The current TB outbreak in Kangiqsualujjuaq likely started this past November. By this past May, health officials had identified 33 cases in the community.
At that time, they sent a portable X-ray machine, more health workers, and epidemiologists into the community.
Health officials also urged people to stay away from so-called “gathering houses,” crowded, poorly ventilated locations used for gambling and drug use.
The high tuberculosis rates in Nunavik and Nunavut are associated with overcrowded housing, poor diet, and poverty.