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TB case in the Torres Strait

8 November 2018

Health authorities are managing a new case of tuberculosis (TB) in a resident of the Torres Strait.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Tony Brown said the person currently was being treated at Cairns Hospital and would continue treatment at home once they were no longer infectious.

He said contact tracing currently was being undertaken to identify people in close contact with the case.

“People will then be tested for TB depending on their level of contact with the case,’’ Dr Brown said.

“If our screening and testing process identifies anyone who is infected, we will provide them with appropriate treatment and ensure they receive medical follow up.’’

The latest case is the second case of TB for the year in the Torres and Cape HHS region, with both occurring in the Torres Strait.

Dr Brown said no further details could be provided about the case due to confidentiality.

“The risk of contracting TB from an infectious person is low and usually requires prolonged contact,’’ he said.

“TB is not spread by touching objects.

“TB is spread by bacteria in tiny airborne droplets that can be inhaled when someone with active TB in their lungs coughs, sneezes, laughs or speaks.

“Even then, 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.

“The majority of people exposed to tuberculosis do not develop the disease.

“TB is treatable and there is no cause for community alarm.

“Symptoms for TB include a persistent cough for more than two or three weeks, sudden unexplained weight loss, night sweats, fever and coughing up blood.

“Anyone in the community with any concerns can contact their local primary health care centre.’’

Across Queensland, there have been 176 cases of TB notified so far this year.

Last year, the Torres and Cape HHS recorded four cases of TB for the year – two cases in the Torres Strait region and two on Cape York.

Across Queensland as whole, there were 188 cases of TB notified in 2017.

Read more information on Tuberculosis

Last updated: 9 November 2018