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Free barbecue to mark World TB Day

8 March 2019

The Torres and Cape Tuberculosis (TB) Control Unit will host a free barbecue, games and
activities and an information stall on Thursday Island on 22 March to mark World TB Day.

The information session and barbecue will be held at the Islanders Board of Industry and Service (IBIS) Main Store in Douglas St from 11 am to 1 pm.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service TB Control Unit Nursing Director J’Belle Foster said World TB Day was observed on 24 March each year.

“This year, that falls on a Sunday, so we are having the barbecue, activities and information session on the Friday before so more people can access it,’’ she said.

“World TB Day is a good time for Torres Strait residents to remind themselves to be vigilant about TB.

“Our information stall will have plenty of fact sheets about TB, providing the facts and debunking the many myths surrounding the disease.

“The risk of contracting TB in the Torres Strait/Northern Peninsula Area and Cape York regions, and in Queensland generally, is low by world standards.

“To become exposed to TB usually requires close and sustained contact with infected individuals. A short-term exposure is not generally sufficient to result in infection.’’

Ms Foster said no cases of TB had been reported among residents of the Torres Strait, Cape York or Northern Peninsula Area regions so far this year.

“Last year, we had four notifications of TB in health service region residents, the same number as in 2017,’’ she said.

Ms Foster said the notification rate for active TB in Queensland currently was about four cases per 100,000 of population.

“This is lower than the most recent peak in 2011 of about 4.9 cases per 100,000,’’ she said.

“The current Queensland rate also is lower than the rate for Australia generally, which is about 6.8 cases per 100,000.

“The overall rate of TB in Queensland also remains low by global standards.

“Even in New Zealand, the rate is around 7 cases per 100,000, according to the latest World Health Organization Global Tuberculosis Report.

“In Papua New Guinea, the rate is around 432 cases per 100,000 and in Indonesia, around 319 cases per 100,000.’’

Ms Foster said it was important for the continued control of TB to deliver culturally appropriate and relevant awareness and prevention messages and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.

“This is done by our health service TB Control Unit, which was established in January 2016,’’she said.

“The establishment of our own, locally controlled TB control unit has allowed much closer surveillance and a more rapid response when a TB case is detected locally.’’

Ms Foster said between 80–85 per cent of all notified cases in Queensland each year involved those born overseas in countries where TB was prevalent.

The most common foreign countries of birth for notified TB cases were the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, India and Vietnam.

“Public health control of TB in Queensland – as throughout Australia – depends on early diagnosis of disease, isolation while infectious and successful treatment,’’ Ms Foster said.

“TB is a legally notifiable condition in Queensland – and Australia generally.

“This allows for quick and timely intervention by health authorities.

“I encourage all Torres Strait residents to get the facts about TB and be informed.’’

Visit Tuberculosis Control Unit webpage for more information.

Last updated: 3 April 2019