Townsville resident tests positive for tuberculosis

Image Source: Townsville Bulletin

The Townsville Public Health Unit has confirmed a patient is suffering from tuberculosis.

The patient, whose age and gender cannot be released for privacy reasons, is in a stable condition and receiving treatment. They remain in isolation.

Authorities are still trying to contact anyone who may have had extended contact with the patient. A testing program will then be rolled out.

Townsville Public Health Unit director Dr Steven Donohue said the risk to the broader community was low.

“There is no cause for alarm,” Dr Donohue said.

“At this stage, there are no other suspected cases. In Queensland, the risk to the general public of developing tuberculosis is very low, with around 3.5 cases of TB diagnosed per 100,000 people each year.

“Tuberculosis is very treatable and is uncommon in most communities in Australia these days.”

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis, or TB as it’s commonly called, is a contagious disease caused by an infection with the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB usually attacks the lungs but can spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain and spine, causing serious illness.

How is tuberculosis spread?

TB is an airborne pathogen (spread through the air), thus when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes or spits, they propel tiny droplets of the bacteria into the air. If another person inhales only a few of these germs, they become infected.

TB is contagious, but it’s not easy to catch and the germs grow slowly. You usually have to spend a an extended period of time around a person who has it. That’s why it’s often spread among co-workers, friends and family members.

How does Tuberculosis affect your body?

A TB infection doesn’t mean you’ll get sick. Doctors make a distinction between two kinds of tuberculosis infection: latent and active.

Latent TB

The bacteria remain in the body in an inactive state. They cause no symptoms and are not contagious, but they can become active.

Active TB

The bacteria cause symptoms and can be transmitted to others. The germs can then multiply and make you sick. Ninety percent of adult cases of active TB are from the reactivation of a latent TB infection.

Tuberculosis Symptoms

There aren’t any symptoms for latent TB. You’ll need to get a skin or blood test to find out if you’re infected.

However, there are usually symptoms for active TB which include:

  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain, or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite.

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor to get tested. Seek medical help immediately if you are experiencing chest pain.