Central Collegiate students, staff to be tested for tuberculosis

Nathan Liewicki
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A student at Central Collegiate has been diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB).

Central Collegiate

Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, medical health officer for the TB Prevention and Control Saskatchewan (TBPCS) program, confirmed to the Times-Herald on Tuesday that the diagnosis was made at end of July.

In instances of active TB, Dr. Kryzanowski said cases are referred to the Saskatoon-based program.

“The program was notified of the case of active tuberculosis disease and it was within the same week that we contacted the school division,” said Dr. Kryzanowski.

Tony Baldwin, director of education for the Prairie South School Division, said the division supplied the Ministry of Health with addresses of the students and staff, which were also passed onto TBPCS.

“We'll take our lead from Health,” said Baldwin. “If there's something more they need from us, we'll co-operate.”

Dr. Mark Vooght, the Five Hills Health Region’s (FHHR) medical health officer, was also contacted to by TBPCS to provide assistance in making space available to conduct tuberculin skin testing for “people who have been identified as contacts,” said Dr. Kryzanowski.

Although letters detailing the situation were mailed out to all Central students and staff the same week the active TB case was diagnosed, a second letter was sent out from TBPCS to those identified as having a higher risk of contracting the disease.

According to Dr. Kryzanowski, 160 students and staff will be tested for active TB on Aug. 25 at the Moose Jaw Union Hospital.

“Those individuals identified at higher risk – although they're still at low risk of infection – are the ones we've arranged to have the skin testing done,” she said. “That (test) can determined if they have TB.”

The 160 individuals will be screened for symptoms of TB and injected with tuberculin, creating a little bump.

They will return to the hospital 48 hours later. If that bump is greater than five millimeters, Dr. Kryzanowski said health officials would “take that as a sign that they’ve been infected with tuberculosis at some point.”

She added that only about 10 per cent of people infected go on to develop active TB. With treatment through antibiotics, that development can be prevented.

“For people who are infected, but don't have the active disease, they're not infectious to anybody else, so they don't pose a risk to their family or friends at all,” said Dr. Kryzanowski.

Dr. Vooght was not available for comment from the FHHR, but Dr. David Torr, a consulting medical health officer, described TB as a “slow spreader and slow grower” that is most commonly transmitted by coughing up infection sputum – usually in more closely confined spaces.

“People can have it in their system and live their whole life without becoming infected,” he said.

At this time, health officials are not linking Moose Jaw’s active TB case to two other TB cases discovered in Regina last month.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks.

Organizations: TB Prevention, Times-Herald, Prairie South School Division Ministry of Health Moose Jaw Union Hospital

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Regina

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