In the south zone of the Alberta Health Services, south and east of Calgary, 55 people were possibly exposed to tuberculosis (TB). To protect patients’ privacy, the agency didn’t release more details about the exposure. They stated in a press release the following:
“Though this case is not a risk to the general public, we are informing the public of this case and our followup actions, as a matter of transparency.”
It happened in Lethbridge, at a food-processing plant. The infected person works there, but the officials explain that the infection is not related to the food that is processed there and that there is nothing to worry about.
Dr. Vivian Suttorp, who is the lead medical officer for Alberta Health Services’ south zone, explains that they don’t have any evidence of anyone contracting the disease by eating food from the plant:
“TB is not a very infectious organism. It’s very different than measles, for example, that’s much more contagious.”
Doctors Say Not to Worry
There is a low incidence rate of TB in Alberta, said Suttorp, explaining that the public shouldn’t be concerned about it:
“I think sometimes there’s a misunderstanding, there’s misconceptions. And it creates a lot of fear and perceived risk. In TB cases, infectious lung TB, the most at risk are those living in the household with the individual.”
TB is not transmitted through touching objects or eating food, but by breathing in air from that person who’s infected.
AHS explained that they’re talking with the family of the infected individual, with the friends or coworkers to see if it spread. It will, however, take a few weeks until doctors can find out if someone was exposed.
People with active TB might cough up bloody mucus, feel tired, lose weight, have night sweats and fever, said Alberta Health.
On 4 June, the agency informed the 55 people that might have been exposed to TB. The officials hand-delivered the letters to them. AHS stated that the exposure had been contained.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.