TB outbreak in Nunavik “resolved,” health board says
Only one new case of tuberculosis detected over the past month
The detection of new cases of active tuberculosis in the Nunavik community of Kangiqsualujjaq has finally decreased, says an Aug. 27 update from the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services.
The health board said it considers that “the tuberculosis outbreak in Kangiqsualujjuaq is currently in the process of being resolved.”
Since November 2011, public health officials have detected 89 cases of TB in Kangiqsualujjuaq.
The outbreak’s peak was observed last May when approximately 20 new cases were reported.
But, over the course of the last month, only one new active case of TB was confirmed in the community of 874 people.
As of June 26, 68 cases of active TB had been reported since the beginning of 2012 in Kangiqsualujjuaq.
Nearly all residents of the Ungava Bay community aged 15 and older, have received x-rays from a portable x-ray machine that was brought into the community to speed up the detection of TB.
The portable x-ray machine took lung images to check for signs of TB, an infectious disease that usually strikes the lungs first.
The Tulattavik hospital in Kuujjuaq and the Inuulitsivik hospital in Puvirnituq have received Xpert TB-detection devices, similar to a machine recently installed at the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.
The machines, about the size of a microwave, perform an automated test for TB and evaluate antibiotic resistance in 90 minutes, eliminating long waits and delays that occur when samples are sent to labs.
To curb the spread of TB, public health officials also lobbied for the closure of so-called “gathering houses” in Kangiqsualujjuaq, crowded, poorly-ventilated locations where gambling and drug sharing take place — and TB infections can easily be passed around.
However, one part of the plan to squash the TB outbreak hit a bump: the Bacille Calmette-Guérin or BCG vaccine, which regional heath officials wanted to give children up to age seven in that Nunavik community, was no longer available.
That’s because all stocks of BCG vaccine, a drug which provides 80 per cent protection against TB for 15 years, were voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur.
The health board did start a public information campaign called “Get involved and hunt down tuberculosis.”
“Hey! Tired of hearing about TB? Want to help your friends, family and community control it? Get involved and hunt down tuberculosis,” the campaign said.
One image in the hunt-TB campaign, which is also online, shows ugly looking blue germs being exchanged when people cough.