A worker at an elderly care facility in Rockhampton was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, which triggered screening for infectious diseases in residents and staff.
CQ Health said the case was reported on Friday and they believe it was acquired overseas.
The director of public health, Dr. Gulam Khandaker said the most recent case had been in domestic isolation since diagnosis and no personal information was released due to privacy concerns.
« We identified 29 geriatric nurses who were identified as close contacts and another 42 employees who would be considered close contacts for this particular infection case, » he said.
Dr. Khandaker said tuberculosis occurs when someone comes into contact with an infectious case for a long period of time.
« Pulmonary tuberculosis is spread through droplets or airways during coughing, sneezing, laughing, or speaking, and when the droplets containing TB or bacteria actually pass through your airways. Then you can get infected, « he said.
« Once infected, a person is unlikely to show symptoms of tuberculosis.
« The risk of developing TB symptoms is higher in Australians born in countries with high TB prevalence, and this risk remains significant throughout life unless treated. «
Dr. Khandaker said TB was more dangerous for the elderly, but the disease was treatable.
Dr. Khandaker said there are currently eight confirmed cases of tuberculosis in the central Queensland region.
Three of these relate to the Rockhampton High School student who was diagnosed in October.
He said the elderly care case announced today had nothing to do with the high school cluster.
« We have followed nearly 135 close contacts on this particular [high school] case, and from this infectious case we have identified three latent tuberculosis.
CQ Health said the other three cases were in the area prior to the student’s fall in October and pose no risk to the public.
Dr. Khandaker urges local doctors to consider tuberculosis as a possible diagnosis when patients with potential symptoms enter.
« Anyone with symptoms suggestive of TB – persistent cough, coughing up blood, accidental weight loss, or night sweats – should see their doctor or contact the CQHHS-TB service immediately instead of waiting to be contacted for screening » , he said.
« I know we are in COVID times now, and all of these symptoms can be COVID symptoms too. Therefore, doctors should consider an alternative diagnosis and look for that diagnosis as well. «
« Remember that there are other conditions in the community as well, » said Dr. Khandaker.
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AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, 10 hours before GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
Tuberculosis, geriatric care, Rockhampton
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