Naujaat becomes 3rd Nunavut community to face tuberculosis outbreak

A file photo of Naujaat, Nunavut, a hamlet of about 1,000 people in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region. The community is Nunavut’s third to declare an active outbreak of tuberculosis since the fall of 2021. (Havard Gould/CBC News )

There are 6 active cases and 10 latent cases in the community, says health department

Nunavut’s Health Department declared an outbreak of tuberculosis in Naujaat on Tuesday because of a recent increase in the number of active cases.

Naujaat is now one of three communities in Nunavut facing a tuberculosis outbreak. A public health advisory from the territory says there are six active cases and 10 latent cases in the community of about 1,000.

The difference between the two is that active tuberculosis is contagious, and latent tuberculosis isn’t — but needs to be treated, so that it doesn’t become active.

A tuberculosis outbreak was declared in Pond Inlet in March, while Pangnirtung has been battling an outbreak since November 2021.

“The growing number of cases suggests that enhanced public health follow-up is necessary,” reads the statement about the outbreak in Naujaat.

A cough that lasts more than three weeks, feeling very tired, not feeling hungry and having a fever or night sweats are symptoms of active tuberculosis, the department said. Health officials are telling anyone with those symptoms, and anyone who has been exposed to an active case, to go to a health centre for screening.

Medications urged 

The Health Department is also urging people to take medications they’ve been prescribed for tuberculosis, because it can cure the disease.

Tuberculosis has been a scourge in Nunavut for decades.

The federal government announced in 2018 that it would eliminate the disease in Inuit communities by 2030. Two years later, tuberculosis rates had barely changed and funding for the project had dried up.

The COVID-19 pandemic further delayed efforts to eliminate the disease.

The Nunavut government signed an agreement with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. in November to share information on tuberculosis numbers and notify Nunavut Tunngavik of outbreaks.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nunavut declares tuberculosis outbreak in Pond Inlet, CBC News

United States: Coronavirus hurting Alaska attempt to reduce tuberculosis, The Associated Press

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