Canadian community's tuberculosis outbreak continues

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

The number of active tuberculosis cases in the village of Kangiqsualujjuaq in Quebec, Canada, has risen to 52, with almost 20 of those cases reported within the past month.

Serge Dery, director of Public Health for the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, said BCG vaccinations will begin for children in Kangiqsualujjuaq in the next few weeks.

BCG vaccination, which helps protect babies and children from the most severe forms of tuberculosis, was discontinued in Nunavik and the rest of Quebec in 2005.

Dery said TB outbreaks in the region have a lot to do with social factors such as overcrowded housing, One person with an active, contagious case of tuberculosis attending a gathering in a small, crowded house with poor ventilation puts many people at risk, he said.

Health officials are encouraging community members to get tested for tuberculosis if they have a persistent cough. A portable chest X-ray machine was brought into the community last month and more health care professionals were made available.

Dery also said people diagnosed with tuberculosis need to keep taking their medication for the entire six to nine months it takes to successfully treat tuberculosis.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations