THE Health Ministry is seeking to reassure the public, especially workers at the TT Electricity Commission (TTEC), that there is no tuberculosis (TB) outbreak.
It was reported that one female TTEC worker, stationed at TTEC’s King Village, California stores department, is being treated at the Caura Chest Hospital after she tested positive for the disease early last month.
Four other employees at the Point Lisas distribution centre tested positive for an inactive form of the disease.
In a statement yesterday, the ministry said it could not be considered an outbreak because an outbreak was declared when there were more TB disease cases than expected within a geographic area or population during a particular time period, and there was evidence of recent transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis among those cases. This was not the case at TTEC.
When asked for an update on the female worker’s progress, TTEC’s corporate communication’s manager Annabelle Brasnelle said she “cannot speak to anything on the matter, and the statement from the Health Ministry speaks to everything.”
The ministry said yesterday it continued to work alongside the management and staff at TTEC to provide TB awareness sessions to their employees. The ministry further advised that TB was not caused by a virus, but by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. It was often spread by droplets from cough. Risk of exposure was determined by the proximity to the patient, the duration of exposure and the existing environmental factors where the infected person was located.
TB has two different entities – disease and latent infection.
The 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 and 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.
However, it is not an active form of TB and does not warrant admission or immediate treatment as it was not infectious to others. Only people with active TB disease can spread TB bacteria.
According to the World Health Organisation’s statistics, about one quarter of the world’s population was estimated to have latent tuberculosis infection of which only ten per cent can develop active TB disease in their lifetime.
The ministry said all protocols have been followed regarding education and testing for the disease.