Tuberculosis in the YK Delta

YKHC is aware of outbreaks of tuberculosis (TB) in the YK Delta. The current case counts are increased from prior years and can lead to strain on the health care system.

To protect the privacy of our patients and the communities we serve, YKHC will not comment on specific villages. However, we want to share information that can help you better understand this disease and reduce its spread.

What is TB?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable and curable infectious disease caused by bacteria. Most people infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis don’t have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they usually include cough (sometimes blood-tinged), weight loss, night sweats, and fever.

How is TB spread?

TB bacteria are spread through the air when a person with TB coughs, speaks, or sings. People with TB are most likely to spread it to those they spend time with every day, such as family members, friends, coworkers, or schoolmates.

What should a person do if they have symptoms or think they have been exposed to someone with TB?

Testing is essential to stopping the spread of TB. If you have symptoms or think you have been exposed to someone with TB, contact your local clinic about getting a TB test. Be sure to tell the health aide or provider when you spent time with the infected person.

What should I expect if there is an outbreak in my community?

YKHC, along with the State of Alaska Public Health Department, provides care for individuals with TB. If an individual discloses their TB diagnosis, supporting a household by food delivery, gas vouchers and other strategies could reduce the strain of isolation. In accordance with HIPPA, YKHC will not report any patient information or diagnoses.

Contact tracing is done for all active TB patients, which helps to identify and arrange to test other people who may have been exposed. If there is an increase in cases in an area, TB tests may be offered to everyone in the village. YKHC and the State of Alaska Public Health Department continually monitor communities in the Delta for new cases.

Community members can help combat TB by encouraging people to call their clinic for a test if they believe they have TB or have been exposed to TB.

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