Rise in tuberculosis cases leads to call for more health-care staff and resources in Mississauga and Brampton

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Published October 18, 2023 at 9:31 am

Tuberculosis mississauga brampton caledon
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria is shown in a 2006 high magnification scanning electron micrograph image. Nunavut's Department of Health has declared a tuberculosis outbreak in Naujaat.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CDC-Janice Carr

Healthcare workers are calling for more resources to help reduce the spread of tuberculosis in Mississauga and Brampton after a record-high number of cases recorded last year.

That’s according to a report to Regional Council last week that showed there were 164 tuberculosis (TB) cases and two deaths in Mississauga and Brampton last year, up from 155 cases in 2021 with incidence rates more than twice the provincial average as the Region’s population continues to grow.

The infectious disease is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread through the air from person to person through coughing, sneezing or even talking. And while TB is preventable and curable, it can also spread to other parts of the body such as the brain and spinal cord, causing significant suffering for those impacted.

With the number of cases of TB in Peel consistently higher than the provincial average, the report found one driver of the rates is Peel’s significant newcomer population with more than half of reported cases found in newcomers who were exposed to the bacteria before arriving in Canada.

The report also highlights TB as “a disease of inequity,” disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations and those struggling with socioeconomic challenges.

“Many experience unemployment and unstable housing, language barriers and stigma, may be adjusting to recent immigration, and often do not have health coverage or access to primary healthcare,” the report reads.

The Region said 2022 cases were “the highest number to date,” leading to a call for additional funding and staff in the 2024 budget to better meet the challenge of TB in the community.

Symptoms of TB include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever, night sweats, coughing, chest pain, and even coughing up of blood.

Even if you don’t have health coverage, Peel Public Health has resources available and is urging anyone with symptoms to contact the TB diagnostic and treatment services at 905-799-7700 in Mississauga and Brampton, or Caledon 905-584-2216 on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

For more information visit www.peelregion.ca.

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