By Jeff Pelletier
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services is holding school tuberculosis screenings in Akulivik, following some reported cases in the community.
Tukisiniarvik School students are encouraged to get screened, but it’s not mandatory, said health board spokesperson Tatiana Solodovnikova. Two nurses are working to perform the tests, with the support of local leaders and the school.
“School screening is currently being offered in this community due to some cases of TB detected earlier,” Solodovnikova said.
The health board is testing for both active TB disease and latent TB infections.
“If the tests confirm latent TB, medications are proposed to eliminate the microbes from the body and prevent the active form of the disease,” Solodovnikova said.
“In the case of active TB, hospitalization may be necessary and obligatory treatment will be required.”
Testing results may take up to three three days to come back, Solodovnikova said.
Tuberculosis symptoms may take a long time to appear. They may include a simple but persistent cough, coughing blood, loss of appetite and weight, fever, chest pain, night sweats, weakness and fatigue.
It can spread through the air when someone shares a closed space for several hours with an infected person. It does not spread through touch such as handshakes, sharing utensils or other objects, and hugs.
“A person with one or more of these symptoms must visit the local community service centre immediately,” Solodovnikova said, adding that screening is available to those who need it in all communities.
According to a March 24, 2022 news release from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Indigenous Services Canada, the reported rate of active TB disease among Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat between 2015 and
2019 was 300 times the rate of the non-Indigenous Canadian population.
In 2016, the rate of TB among Inuit in Inuit Nunangat was 182.9 per 100,000 compared to 0.6 per 100,000 for the Canadian born non-Indigenous population, according to ITK’s 2018 Inuit Tuberculosis Elimination Framework report.
Between 2019 and 2020, the number of active TB cases in Inuit communities decreased by 61 per cent, the release said. In 2019, there were 134 cases compared to 52 cases in 2020, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Jeff Pelletier is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works for the
NUNATSIAQ NEWS. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.