Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tuberculosis scare from traveller

There was a tuberculosis scare here in Montreal this week. An American from Atlanta, GA, flew to Paris, France, and then from Prague, Czech Republic to Montreal, Quebec. He took this route home because, according to the news on the Montreal CTV affiliate, he knew that if he flew into the States he would be detained and he didn’t want to be. So, he rented a car in Montreal and drove home.

The story as to whether he knew he shouldn’t fly is unwinding in the press. Some stories said that he knew, others that he didn’t. However, even as late as the news at 11 pm last night, the press says that they have quotes from him saying that he wasn’t going to stay home even though he had been warned not to travel. However, the latest news reports also say that the man doesn’t have such a virulent strain as originally thought.

We do know that it’s getting harder to fight TB because there are drug resistant strains. Part of the reason that drug resistance is occurring is that you need to take the appropriate antibiotics for a long period of time to be sure that you are no longer infected. And, once people feel better, they stop taking the antibiotics because they no longer feel sick. This just helps the bacteria develop a resistance to the antibiotics and the cycle begins. The first time you are treated, the treatment is from six to nine months. If you have to be treated a second time, it can be from 18 to 24 months. Again, people feel well and may decide that that long a time isn’t necessary.

We have a lot of other bacteria that are becoming immune to certain antibiotics and most of it boils down to the same thing: misuse of antibiotics. People with viruses, like colds or the flu, insist that their doctor give them antibiotics when they don’t do any good anyway. Or, they get antibiotics but they forget to take them or they stop taking them. This results in antibiotic resistant bugs. We have to stop the mentality of drugs solving all and if our doctors insist that antibiotics aren’t needed, we should listen. Of course, the doctors shouldn’t be prescribing them either, but that’s a whole other subject.

I hope that none of the people who were in contact with the infected man develop TB. Taking antibiotics for six to nine months and worrying about passing on the disease are not something they should have to worry about.

As for me, I think that the man should be charged if he knowingly putting the public at risk.

News for today:
Experts Disagree on Whether TB Patient Needed To Be Isolated
B.C. alerts public to possible cases of measles
UN offers new HIV testing guidance

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