Pelican Narrows is reporting an outbreak - but not of COVID-19. The community, located about 120 kilometres from Flin Flon, is reporting a spike in tuberculosis (TB) cases in recent weeks.
“Please be aware that there is a TB outbreak in our community of Pelican Narrows,” reads a statement from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Health Services on the outbreak.
“If you are experiencing symptoms, please call the clinic and speak with the TB coordinator at the clinic.”
The disease spreads through the air, most often when someone with the disease coughs, sneezes or otherwise expels air. The disease affects the lungs in most cases, but can also affect other organs like the brain, spine or kidneys.
TB symptoms can include a prolonged cough - three weeks or longer - along with fever or chills, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, sickness or weakness, coughing up blood and night sweats. Some of those symptoms can also be possible COVID-19 symptoms - PBCN Health Services warns that despite similar symptoms, the diseases are different and require different treatment.
“The symptoms of COVID-19 and TB can be very similar - however, they are very different diseases,” reads the PBCN Health Services statement.
Most cases of TB are considered to be latent cases, where a person has a TB germ in their body but it is not active - as such, people with latent cases do not have symptoms and can’t spread it to others, but symptoms may develop in the future. TB can be detected through either a skin test or through a blood test and can often be treated through prescription medication, though some forms can be more resistant to treatment.
People most at risk include people who have recently been infected with the TB germ or people with existing health issues that may affect their immune system.
No casualties have been reported in relation to the Pelican Narrows outbreak.