HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands confirmed yesterday that of almost 200 people screened for tuberculosis in two government schools, skin tests for 20 of them have come back from the lab positive. However, he said this is nothing to be alarmed about.
Dr Sands explained the positive skin tests simply mean that these 20 people spread out between Government High School (GHS) and A F Adderley Junior High School have at some point in their lifetime been exposed to tuberculosis.
As it stands, there remain two active cases of the highly contagious disease between the two schools.
“In the surveillance process we would have screened almost 200 people and of that number 20 persons would have had positive skin tests,” Dr Sands said.
“Now all that means is that they have been exposed to tuberculosis at some point in their lives. It doesn’t mean that they have active tuberculosis.
“The next step would be that they require chest x-rays and if the chest x-rays are normal and they have no symptoms suggestive of TB they would be treated as an exposure and they would get one drug – Prophylaxis.
“If on the other hand they turn out to be an active case of TB then they would get six months of either four or five drugs for 14 days at minimum in the hospital.
“But we have not identified any active cases of TB as of today from the two sentinel cases from A F Adderley and GHS but the surveillance process will continue for contact screening.
“So if we do find a case then we have to go through their contacts and the cycle starts over again.”
Those who tested positive he further explained may have latent tuberculosis that is not contagious nor active but if they were never known to have tuberculosis before they will get a prophylactic.
In The Bahamas the rate of tuberculosis was 15 per 100,000 making it a low “incidence” country. While this is considered a low rate it still indicates that tuberculosis has not yet been eliminated in our nation, Dr Sands has said.
Over the past five years, a total of 139 persons were lab confirmed for TB and 157 persons presented with clinical symptoms. All 296 were treated for tuberculosis.
Of that number the data revealed that the majority of the patients were living in New Providence while a few were living in Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and Exuma.