Tuberculosis in First Nations in Canada

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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. It is preventable and curable. This infection mainly affects the lungs, but can occur in multiple organs. Active TB disease is a serious infection that can be spread to others by coughing or sneezing.

Reported rate of active TB in First Nations

  • the reported rate of active TB is over 40x higher among First Nations living on reserve than non-Indigenous Canadian-born people (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2017)

"Together, we can limit the spread of TB in First Nations through education and action on the determinants that influence the spread of TB." – Assembly of First Nations

Factors that increase the chance of developing active TB

  • latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI)
    • someone with LTBI does not have symptoms and is not contagious
    • treating LTBI prevents the development of active TB
  • close contact with people living with untreated active TB
  • overcrowded, poorly ventilated homes
    • 37% of First Nations living on reserve reported living in crowded households, compared to 8% of the non-Indigenous population of Canada (Statistics Canada, 2016)
  • poor nutrition
  • having other illnesses, such as diabetes or HIV
  • smoking

Symptoms of active TB

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

  • cough lasting more than 2 weeks
  • chest pain
  • unexpected or unexplained weight loss
  • weakness or lack of energy
  • chills or fever
  • night sweats

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