Health minister says there is no cause for alarm after 80 test positive for TB explosure

Health minister says there is no cause for alarm after 80 test positive for TB explosure
Health minister Dr Duane Sands

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Health Minister Dr Duane Sands insisted there is no outbreak or cause for alarm after 80 people tested positive for exposure to TB.

An international alert released on Tuesday classified the severity of the “Epidemic Hazard in The Bahamas” as minor.

Last month, Sands confirmed that a 15 -year old Kendal G. L. Issacs shelterees had tested positive for active tuberculosis.

He said that screenings were ongoing.

On Tuesday, he told Eyewitness News there is no reason for alarm or concern because there is “no outbreak”.

“We identified the boy from AF Adderley,” Sands said.

“We then do contact tracing. They all get TB skin tests. Those TB skin tests are either positive or negative.

“In this instance we got about 400, 80 of them are positive.

“Now that doesn’t mean that they are positive because of him.

“All that means that of the people tested, those 80 have been exposed to tuberculosis at some point in their life.”

Sands noted that those individuals will have to do chest x-rays to test for active TB.

“As of Sunday, none of the chest x-rays are positive,” he continued.

“What does that mean? It means that none of the persons have, that we had screened, have been documented to have active tuberculosis.

“And in particular, if you were to look at the staff and students from AF Adderley, we have screened 36 persons – 29 students and 7 staff members – all were negative to date.”

He could not indicate at the time, how many of the 80 have had chest x-rays completed, noting that many of them are going in on their own to get it done.

“This is a screening process,” Sands continued. There’s no emergency here. These are asymptomatic people. So, people with a TB skin test that have latent TB are not infectious.”

“There’s no outbreak.”

Sands said: “The Bahamas has one of the lowest incidents of TB in the world. Less than 20 per 100,000 in terms of number of cases per year.”

He attributed those low numbers to the rigorous methodology utilized to screen, test, and trace contacts.

“So every single contact that we can identify, we go and test or review their medical records.

“We go in their homes, we go in their church, we go in their school, we go wherever they hang out.”