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Monday 10 August, 2020

No TB outbreak at T&TEC, Health Minister says

There is no outbreak of tuberculosis at two offices of the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC).

Speaking in the Senate on Monday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh sought to clarify media reports of a tuberculosis outbreak at the two offices and give an update on the Ministry’s efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.

Deyalsingh said there was no outbreak, but a case of one T&TEC employee who had contracted tuberculosis (TB) and happened to work at both offices.

He assured that all standard procedures were followed while public health sensitisation sessions have been held with employees at both T&TEC locations, and further sessions are scheduled to take place on Monday.

An outbreak is declared when there are more TB disease cases than expected within a geographic area or population during a particular time period, and there is evidence of recent transmission of M. tuberculosis among those cases.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Ministry indicated that the risk of exposure to TB (caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, and often spread by droplets from cough) is determined by the proximity to the patient, the duration of exposure and the existing environmental factors where the infected person is located.

TB has two different entities - Disease, and Latent Infection. The Ministry explained that disease is an active state of TB where the germs can be transmitted to others and patients may suffer from symptoms which include a persistent fever, weight loss, reduced appetite, coughing with or without blood, usually lasting weeks.

Latent infection or dormant state, indicates that there has been exposure to an infectious case, and there is the presence of dormant TB bacilli in the body. It is not an active form of TB (disease) and doesn’t warrant admission or immediate treatment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 25 percent of the world’s population have Latent Tubercolosis Infection (LTBI) of which only 10 percent can develop active TB disease in their lifetime.

Further, the Ministry said, latent TB infected individuals are not infectious to others. Only those with active TB disease can spread TB bacteria.

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