Potential exposure to an infectious case of Tuberculosis in Yellowknife

YELLOWKNIFE (July 3, 2024) The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) is issuing a public health advisory to notify the public of potential exposure to an infectious case of Tuberculosis (TB).

Please be advised that this Advisory is issued for precautionary reasons only.

The CPHO would like to inform the public that anyone who attended the Stanton Territorial Hospital Emergency Room (ER) on the following day and time should report their potential exposure to the NWT 8-1-1 nurse advice line for further direction:

  • June 19, 2024, between the hours of 8:58 am to 3:21 pm

TB is a bacterial disease that affects mainly the lungs and can be transmitted through air particles.  Many factors are considered when determining if an exposure to TB is significant. TB is a slow growing bacteria and takes a long time to develop from infection (usually no symptoms) to disease (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss, chest pain, bloody sputum). Most people exposed to someone with TB NEVER get infected or go on to develop disease. However, a small proportion of the exposed may be more susceptible to infection and developing TB disease than others. Examples:

  • People who have weakened immune systems,
  • Those who are very young (usually children under 5) or
  • The elderly are most at risk for infection and progression to disease.

If you are identified as a potential contact, do not panic. Public health staff will talk with you about your exposure and determine your risk for infection. They will talk you through about symptoms of TB, advise if you need a TB test, or need other tests such as a chest x-ray or a cough sample (sputum). This assessment may occur right away, or it may not occur for a couple of months depending on your circumstances. If you have been exposed to TB, it typically takes8 weeks or longer for results that indicate you have been exposed and are infected with TB bacteria. 

If you have a positive TB test and are infected with the TB bacteria, this does NOT mean you have TB. This just means that you have a TB infection. The good news is TB infection is easily curable with antibiotics. People who have a TB infection are not sick, do not have symptoms of TB and cannot make anyone else sick. However, if you test positive for TB infection, it will likely be recommended that you complete a course of appropriate antibiotics to get rid of the infection. A public health clinician with experience in TB will discuss options with you.

If you have been infected with TB and you go on to develop TB disease, you may be experiencing symptoms such as cough lasting greater than 2-3 weeks that is productive of sputum (may also be bloody), unexplained weight loss over weeks/months, night sweats, fever, or chest pain. If you have these symptoms you should seek medical care and advice. 

TB is everyone’s concern. Talk about the symptoms of TB with your family and friends. TB is curable and we want to eliminate TB in the NWT so “Think TB” if you or someone you know has any of the symptoms mentioned and encourage people to seek care. 

For more information contact:

Andrew Wind
Manager, Communications
Health and Social Services