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December 21, 2001
TB Alert Issued to Health Care Community
  
Toronto's Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, has issued a
Tuberculosis Alert to Toronto hospitals advising of the continuing
investigation into a recent outbreak of TB among homeless or underhoused
people.

The alert informs hospital staff that five new cases of TB among
shelter/drop-in users are being investigated. Nine confirmed outbreak-related
cases were previously reported. There have been two deaths.

Public Health officials are seeking the active co-operation of physicians and
emergency room staff in stopping the spread of TB. "We are alerting hospital
staff to the significance of this outbreak and asking them to be on the lookout
for signs of TB among homeless or underhoused people. Containing this outbreak
requires heightened awareness and vigilance," said Dr. Yaffe.

Notice of the TB alert has been sent to all hostels and shelters in Toronto.
All individuals who have been in close, prolonged contact with the
outbreak-related cases are being identified and screened by Public Health
staff.

Dr. Yaffe emphasized that TB is preventable and treatable. "We must remember
that TB is not a highly communicable disease like the common cold or the flu.
Particularly at this time of year, people should not be afraid to continue to
volunteer with organizations supporting the homeless. Part of our effort is to
reassure people who work with this population that the risk of getting TB is
very low."

In 2000, there were 376 active cases of TB in Toronto. About five per cent of
these cases were among the homeless or underhoused.

For more information on TB, visit www.city.toronto.on.ca/health
.


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