06/13/2014 10:36 EDT | Updated 08/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Tuberculosis case in N.L. confirmed by Eastern Health

The largest health authority in Newfoundland and Labrador has confirmed a a diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in the province. 

In a news release issued on Friday morning, Eastern Health stated: "The individual was diagnosed with TB in May at a Western Health facility where the patient began treatment."

Prior to being a patient at the Western Health facility, the person was a patient at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's. 

Dr. David Allison, medical officer of health for Eastern Health and Western Health, said the risk to patients, visitors and staff who are identified as close contacts is anticipated to be very low.

“We are being thorough with our review of potential contacts and any individual who is identified as a contact will be notified by regional public health officials directly," said Allison. "If you are not contacted, you are not considered to be a close contact. While the individual was diagnosed in May, it was only recognized recently that he had been an inpatient with Eastern Health." 

Contact tracing underway

Public health officials are currently in the process of performing contact tracing throughout the province for a period of three months, prior to diagnosis as per Canadian Tuberculosis Standards.

Contact tracing is performed to identify those who may have had close contact with this patient since February 2014, so public health officials can follow up with them directly to arrange for TB testing. Close contacts are those who have regular, prolonged contact with an individual diagnosed with TB.

Eastern Health said people who have been notified as close contacts will be offered TB skin testing. A positive test will need further investigation, including a chest X-ray or blood work.

The release continued, "Once this screening work has been completed, individuals who may have been infected will be referred to their family doctor for follow-up."