May 13, 2015 7:03 pm

Health officials not concerned about rise in Calgary tuberculosis cases

A look at the increase in tuberculosis cases in Calgary from 2010 to 2014.

Cody Coates / Global News

CALGARY- Health officials say they’re not concerned about an increase in cases of tuberculosis in Calgary. Since 2010, the number of active infections has increased by 42 per cent, but according to Alberta Health Services, that has more to do with a recent influx of immigrants from high-risk countries than the actual spread of disease.

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“We’ve seen a trend in increasing numbers of cases and it’s likely related to our patterns of immigration,” said Dr. Judy MacDonald, AHS medical health officer of health for the Calgary zone. “The majority of our cases are in the foreign-born.”

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that most often impacts a patient’s lungs but can also affect the bones, kidneys, lymph nodes and urinary tract. In its active form, TB is contagious but usually requires prolonged exposure. For example, a Health Canada website explains TB cannot be spread by shaking hands or sharing dishes with someone who has the infection.

Latent forms of TB are not contagious, and can be treated before the disease becomes an active infection. MacDonald says newcomers to Canada are routinely screened for TB so patients can be identified and monitored.

“The refugee clinic in Calgary is very actively involved in screening refugees that come to their clinic, and there’s a process that is set up federally to screen immigrants for TB before they arrive.”

This article is not written or edited by Global News. The author is solely responsible for the content. © Heather Yourex-West, 2015

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