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Tuberculosis case in Calgary-area sparks warning by Alberta Health Services

The Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) bacteria is shown in a 2006 high magnification scanning electron micrograph image.
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) bacteria is shown in a 2006 high magnification scanning electron micrograph image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, CDC - Janice Carr

Dozens of people in the Calgary-area may have been exposed to tuberculosis, Alberta Health Services said on Thursday.

Notification letters were sent to 81 people who were potentially exposed, after a confirmed case of tuberculosis was reported in the Calgary Zone.

AHS said the potential exposures were contained to one Calgary-area school and that everyone who is potentially affected will receive a letter.

READ MORE: Tuberculosis in Canada: Over 1,700 people diagnosed in 2016

AHS said the risk of transmission is low, but the letters include information on standard TB assessment, screening and treatment, if required.

“Though this case is not a risk to general public, we are informing the public of this case and our follow-up actions, as a matter of transparency,” AHS said in a media release Thursday.

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Tuberculosis usually affects the lungs and is spread to others through the air through coughing, sneezing or even talking.

READ MORE: Federal government aims to eliminate tuberculosis in Canada’s North by 2030

TB bacteria can remain in the body in an inactive state – it’s only when the bacteria causes symptoms that it can be transmitted to others.

On July 30, a parent showed Global News a letter they received from AHS. It said testing would take place in the staff room at David Thompson School on Aug. 20 and Aug. 22.

Parents and their children can then return on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29 to receive results. The test and result times are between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and will be conducted on a drop-in basis.

The appointments are free of charge and parents are asked to bring their child’s Alberta health care card with them.

Parents with questions can call 403-944-7660 or HealthLink at 811 if they are calling outside of regular business hours.

For general information on TB, visit the AHS website.