Nunavik health board declares tuberculosis outbreaks in 5 communities

58 cases reported since the beginning of 2023

Nunavik’s Regional Board of Health and Social Services reported 58 tuberculosis cases since the beginning of the year. (Photo by Cedric Gallant)

By Cedric Gallant - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There are tuberculosis outbreaks in five Nunavik communities but the region’s health board won’t say which ones.

The region has seen 58 new cases across six communities since the beginning of 2023, the board confirmed in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

However, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said it’s not revealing which communities are dealing with outbreaks at the request of community members to avoid stigma associated with the disease.

The board keeps each community informed of their cases individually by contacting municipal offices, health centres and wellness committees.

Those groups take care of informing the community through local radio or Facebook.

A TB regional committee is also in place, where mayors and leaders of regional organizations meet to discuss the topic.

Salluit’s municipal officed confirmed to Nunatsiaq News that the community’s annual music festival, which was supposed to start at the end of June, was postponed to July 29 due to a TB outbreak.

“Even though a community might be going through an outbreak,” said Dr. Yassen Tcholakov, the board’s clinical infectious disease lead, “people can still travel to these communities, walk and do activities, there is no significant risk of contamination.”

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that is treatable with medication. Symptoms include a lingering cough, malaise, loss of appetite, fever or night sweats.

The reason for the uptick in cases is due to the lack of screening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tcholakov said this has been observable worldwide, but Nunavik deals with a higher concentration of cases than in most places.

He said he is trying to take additional steps to lower the number of cases, but there is a lack of resources available.

“We asked other regions to help,” Tcholakov said. “We asked at the provincial and federal levels for resources, health and non-health workers to help with screenings.”

If someone shows symptoms of the disease, “we invite everyone to come screen themselves” at a local health centre.

The number of cases is expected to rise once mass screening begins in affected communities. Screenings started in 2022, and more are planned this fall and into next year.

“We are working towards total elimination of the disease,” said Tcholakov, “but this is going to take a lot of time, more than a few years at least.”

He said that supporting close friends and family members who are going through tuberculosis treatment is crucial.

“Treatment can last a long time, and it requires dedication,” he said. “After a few weeks, people start to feel better, and it becomes even more difficult to stay on track.

“If they stop treatment, they will be sick again after a few months.”

To limit the spread of the illness as much as possible, he suggests good ventilation in homes and other buildings.

“Tuberculosis is a disease that stays in the air,” Tcholakov said. “If someone stays in one place, that place becomes contaminated. If you open windows, that air is then replaced.”


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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by No telling which community on

    This is typically necessary to not tell which community has the TB. They’ll literally shame the living hell out of each other. That’s the same as when Covid came to visit. People showed their true colours of cruelty to each other. If it weren’t for health professionals, Covid and now TB become weapons to tear down the vulnerable.

  2. Posted by nacacab902 on

    “Tuberculosis is a disease that stays in the air,” Tcholakov said. “If someone stays in one place, that place becomes contaminated. If you open windows, that air is then replaced.”

    • Posted by Very close contact on

      The fact is people have very close contact to each other hours on end. No just the crowd in living conditions, that too, but even when eating at someone’s house for lunch and supper. They’re sharing all parts of the same piece of fish, meat, whatever is special of the day, and large group washing hands with same towel.

    • Posted by Staying one place ? on

      You ever been north of the line Billy? People tend to go on the prowl after a few sips of the spirits. That means not only going off the road in the neighbors truck, but also carriers of the disease right into that house they gone to cause trouble.

  3. Posted by Reality on

    I guess TB will continue to spread, since they conceal where you are at risk due to “stigma”.

    • Posted by People are so cruel to their own on

      It’s like the pandemic, I heard and seen lots of stories and situations where people in smaller places were kind and generous to each other, and then there’s the cruelty that I seen in the north with people to each other, same as TB , if you don’t see it you’re not looking,

    • Posted by IT’s survival of the most generous and kind people on

      It narrows down to survival of the most generous and kind people . Those that are stigmatizing each other with not do well.

  4. Posted by Shaming gone wrong on

    I grew up in a society where people looked down on behaviour that was negative, like drinking and abuse of children, and people hurting each other. We didn’t put people down for having disease like TB. It’s the opposite in the Nunavik society. People don’t put each other down for drinking and abuse or even murder and rape. But they put each other down for having TB. I pretty proud of my up bringing.

  5. Posted by It’s either TB, bed bugs or scabies. on

    Just noticed what people we have. In Nunavik, it’s all about bed bugs from the big inflow and out flow of souls going everywhere to get nowhere. The new Nunavik indoor representation of behavioural rights and freedoms documented at ulivik. TB which the health system has been after for years to no avail. And not surprisingly the poor shut aways in the jail fighting the attack of scabies, while healing is on hold. Where are my prisoners rights? How bad do it get for people ?

    • Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

      The amount of incompetence from the staff at ullivik is straight up appalling. The condescending comments made toward our people from the staff and the lack of responsibility for the actions they take against our people is down right sickening. No one wants to stay there. That place is worse than jail.

      Bed bugs? Report it and they threaten to kick you out once you spread the word of it.

      Stolen items worth in the thousands of dollars? They wont take responsibility for it.

      No place to stay at the ullivik or the quality and so youre forced to pay for a hotel out of your own pocket or sleep on a hard bench in the lobby? Youll be hit with excuses for them to avoid reimbursement like “we are not responsible for your actions” or “you had a room” (even if you were told before hand that you didnt).

      Food poisoning? “Not from us. It would never happen.” They cook expired frozen patties of eggs for breakfast. Tuna on mac salad that literally taste like the smell of a wet dog.

      Kicked out of your room a day prior to departure? “No way!”

      Lost your luggage? “We’ll find it sooner or later.”

      No reservations for four days so you have to pay your own hotel? “Not our fault.”

      No way will I ever stay there ever again. Thinking to sign a DNR on my part just to avoid ever going there ever again.

      • Posted by To Mr.Miyagi on

        I agree with you that the situation at ulivik is terrible. There are persons that should answer for that. But who are they ? First you have the bureaucracy, the workers, and then you have the patients themselves, what you call our people. Don’t forget your other people in charge. As far as what you need to acknowledge I think, is your people part, the ones in charge. We all know that the system and the workers are very much needed improvement. Think about the patients over the years , the drinking , the neglect of escorts , not doing their work, but drinking. Now for the more important part, your people that are in charge and can make a difference but will not , WILL NOT. Your leadership. They’re allowing this to happen to your people! Yes your people doing that to your people. Think about that.

        • Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

          You assuming we are all a bunch of drunks is the type of treatment we got from the staff at ullivik when we should be treated as individuals. Not all drink.

          It was the staff who gave all those answers and claimed no responsibility.

          I saw a poor young girl, who doesnt even drink, crying in the lobby because her room had bed bugs and she was told she wouldnt be moved from the room by the ruv. When my mother complained about the same thing a few years back, the ruv threated to kick her out.

          The bureaucracy should take a deep look into who gets which contracts, sure.. but that isnt their fault for hiring contractors that basically advertise only the good. Be real and take note that they wont advertise “we are known for theft” or “may cause food poisoning”.

          Ruv will also never take responsibility for their mistreatment. Neither will the liason nurses for any travel mistakes. Just a month ago i saw a couple having to sleep in a homeless shelter because the liason nurse forgot to make them reservations. They once told me “we will never put anyone on the street”, but lets be honest.. that is pretty damn close.

          • Posted by Not all drink but those that dooo on

            Not all drink and party with hospitals arm bands on but enough do, and it ruins life for those that are good people. But it’s still your people they needs working on with your people . Everyone else is tire as well .

            • Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

              There is a blacklist put in place for that very reason. RUV doesnt use it often enough.

            • Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

              If youre more likely to get kicked out for telling the people that there are bed bugs rather than the drunks that “ruin lives”(your words, not mine) lol… damn, id need a drink, too.

              • Posted by To Mr Miyagi on

                One major set back for Inuit that have a problem at ullvik is lack of cooperation and cohesion between each other to stand up and make a difference. It’s always the wait for a solution to come from someone else. That’s happening as well in so much of Inuit society today , in Nunavik. People are disconnected from doing the best for Nunavik. Always waiting for someone outside to solve it. It’s not going to happen. The leadership is dysfunctional, greedy, and only self serving, taking care of the family for everything from the easiest jobs, and even housing. Inuit are in charge , but doing a terrible job, disconnected from each other. Stand up and demand zero tolerance at ullvik for anything that interferes with care, drunks, and bad staff including.

                • Posted by MakeNunavikGreatAgain on

                  Leadership? they are to busy on their boats (150K) or going at their cabins driving a 80k pickup truck.

                  Boat + pickup truck + own house + cabin +atv + skidoo = we are talking of 2 millions of assets

                  not bad for sec 2 drop outs

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