Health officials are testing people who live and work with a patient after tests found that person was suffering from tuberculosis.
Medical Officer of Health Kiran Kumar says the Public Health Department was taking ‘aggressive measures to test all close contacts of a tuberculosis patient who has been hospitalised’.
Mr. Kumar said the patient was showing slight symptoms of the disease and was not coughing, so it was unlikely that people in close proximity would have been infected.
He said the person, whose age or gender he refused to reveal, had not been in contact with another patient who was found to have tuberculosis, or TB, in May this year.
‘We think it is likely that this patient contracted TB as a child and the viral bacteria remained in the system, without causing any disease, and was activated in adult life,’ Mr. Kumar said.
He said tuberculosis can activate when a person’s immune system is low.
He added that doctors discovered on Friday that the patient was suffering from TB while carrying out tests on the individual for other unrelated reasons.
‘In this particular person’s case, the infection is mild and in my opinion, the person does not seem to be infectious. A sputum test was negative and the person is not coughing,’ he said.
Despite this, the Public Health Department has decided to take extra precautions and keep the patient in isolation from other patients in the hospital for two weeks. The patient will be given a six-month drug treatment to combat the disease.
‘After two weeks, we can safely say the patient will not be infectious,’ Mr. Kumar said.
Cayman sees very few annual cases of tuberculosis, with a total of five being reported in the past seven years.
‘TB is spread through the air from one person to another. For most persons who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria and stop them from growing,’ Mr. Kumar said.