Health Minister dispels misinformation spreading about TB

Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands (centre) addresses a Tuberculosis update press conference at the Ministry of Health, Thursday, February 8, 2018. Also pictured from left: Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan and Senior Undersecretary, Ministry of Health, David Cates. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands held a press conference at the Ministry, Thursday, February 8, 2018, to dispel the misinformation and state the actions taken by the Tuberculosis (TB) unit as well as to provide a preliminary report and outline the course of action taken by the Ministry of Health to address any new cases of TB in the country. Dr. Sands said preliminary results of recent screening at Garvin Tynes indicate that 38 students have tested negative; 46 teachers have been tested with two positive, 40 negative and two not yet read; 12 parents tested with one positive, 10 negative and one not yet read, and 22 in administration and support staff tested with three positive. “I assure the public that the staff from the Ministry of Health will complete the screening exercise at Garvin Tynes Primary School and those students, teachers, administrators and support staff who test positive will be given additional tests as needed to determine whether they have the disease.  It is therefore critical for students to participate in the screening programme.”

He also wished to remind the public that in recent weeks, the Ministry of Health has conducted extensive screening exercises on Eleuthera, R.M. Bailey High School and more recently the Gaming Board in Nassau, which resulted in 17 positives out of 81 tested. “Those results according to International Standards did not allow for a cause of concern or public panic.” Dr. Sands said the Ministry will continue to conduct the prescribed TB screenings throughout the country as required. “As the Minister of Health, I am compelled to dispel public panic and fear by informing that The Bahamas has a stellar public health record and every necessary protocol will be taken to identify and address any new cases.”

TB is an infectious disease of the lungs, which is spread through the air from one person to another.  People with TB disease are most likely to spread it to people they spend time with every day.  It is not spread by contact with clothes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, handshake, toilets or other surfaces.

 Symptoms of TB lung disease include:

  • A bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)

 Other symptoms of TB disease are:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • No appetite
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sweating at night

Persons who are experiencing one or more of these symptoms or who have concerns may visit their nearest public health clinic.  For additional information, they should contact the TB Surveillance Unit at the Ministry of Health, Meeting Street.


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