A member of staff at an aged care home in Rockhampton has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, prompting residents and staff to be tested for the infectious disease.

According to a report by the ABC, 29 residents and 42 staff have been screened for TB.

It is believed the case was acquired overseas.

No close contacts of the person who contracted TB have shown any symptoms of the disease, said public health director, Gulam Khandaker.

The person has been in home isolation since they were diagnosed. No personal details about the person will be released for privacy reasons.

According to the ABC, a statement from Mercy Health and Aged Care said: “We have been advised by the Infectious Disease Unit that the risk of transmission to residents and staff is low, and that all precautions and infection controls are in place.”

“All of the residents and staff within the impacted facility are being tested. 

“The unit impacted is a single, stand-alone site supporting 29 residents therefore we are confident our precautions will be effective in containing any potential transmission.”

What is TB?

Tuberculosis is a contagious, airborne infection that destroys body tissue, according to Healthline. Pulmonary TB occurs when tuberculosis primarily attacks the lungs, but can spread to other organs too. Pulmonary TB is curable with an early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment.

Symptoms of TB include:

  • coughing up phlegm
  • coughing up blood
  • consistent fevers, including low-grade fevers
  • night sweats
  • chest pain
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue

You can get pulmonary TB by:

  • shaking hands
  • sharing food or drink
  • sleeping in the same bed
  • kissing
  • breathing air exhaled by someone with tuberculosis, for example from coughing, sneezing, laughing and singing – the germs can stay in the air for several hours 

It’s possible to inhale TB germs even when the infected person isn’t in the room. However, you usually have to be close to someone with TB for a long period to catch it.

Older people at greater risk

The risk of catching pulmonary TB is highest for people who are in close contact with those who have TB. This includes being around family or friends with TB or working in places that house people with TB, including aged care homes.

Older people are at greater risk from pulmonary TB.

In Queensland, fewer than four cases of TB are diagnosed per 100,000 people per year. There are presently eight cases of tuberculosis in central Queensland, including both infectious and non-infectious cases of the disease.

Anyone with a persistent cough, coughing up blood, unintentional weight loss or night sweats should see their doctor or contact Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services’ TB services.


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