CPS issues TB warning after spotting two cases

POSTED: 01/6/12 5:04 PM

St. Maarten – The Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a public health agency of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour has warned people who may have been exposed to tuberculosis or who have it to strictly follow their medical treatment and to follow-up with their family physician for the results of the mantoux tuberculin skin test to determine further medical treatment and handling. The warning, issued Thursday, also includes the revelation that there were two registered cases of TB in 2011. One case is a 30-year-old female in September and the other is a 21-year-old male in November.
The two recorded cases were spotted by the department’s surveillance team during a review of relevant epidemiologic and other scientific data to conduct contact investigations in order to minimize any spread of the condition. The two people who were infected are considered index cases. Their close contact with others is then followed up and they are interviewed by the surveillance team to determine if they may be infected. If they are determined to be at risk, they are referred for additional testing such as mantoux testing and chest x-ray. Particularly vulnerable populations may be more at risk for TB disease if they come into contact with an infected person.

TB is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacterium usually attacks the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are dispersed into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.
However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are not sick have what is called latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But, some people with latent TB infection go on to get TB disease.

People with active TB disease can be treated if they seek medical help. People with latent TB infection can take medicine so that they will not develop active TB disease.
TB disease can be treated by taking several medications for six to nine months. It is very important for persons to take these medications as prescribed. Not adhering to the scheduled drug regime could make the bacteria resistant and hence, a person’s recovery time could be longer. If a person stops taking the medications too soon, they also risk becoming sick again.
At all times to avoid putting others at risk, persons should exercise cough hygienic practices – “Cover your Cough.”

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