[Hpn] TB Testing Underway In Homeless Shelters

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Tue, 9 Nov 2004 07:46:28 -0500


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TheStar.com - TB testing underway in homeless shelters
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                  Nov. 9, 2004=20
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                               =20
                              PETER POWER/TORONTO STAR=20
                              Outside the Maxwell Meighen men's shelter =
at Sherbourne and Queen Sts. yesterday, an unidentified homeless man =
shows his tuberculosis records from 2002-2003.=20
                      =20
                      =20
                  TB testing underway in homeless shelters
                  Two workers being treated
                  Little risk to public, officials say


                  MOIRA WELSH
                  STAFF REPORTER

                  A massive hunt is underway for the homeless man who =
infected two Toronto Salvation Army shelter workers with a virulent =
strain of tuberculosis.=20

                  Toronto Public Health has begun saliva testing of =
4,000 homeless men and shelter workers in an attempt to stem the =
transmission of the lung disease in the city's crowded shelter system.=20

                  Health officials said there is little risk to the =
public.=20

                  The health department decided to launch the testing =
campaign after it discovered late last month that a shelter worker at =
the Maxwell Meighen hostel at Sherbourne and Queen Sts. tested positive =
for the same strain of active TB contracted by a fellow worker who was =
tested in July.=20

                  Their tuberculosis type matches the strain that was =
responsible for an outbreak in the shelter system in 2001. Another four =
workers at the same shelter have tested positive for inactive TB, but =
are currently not sick.=20

                  "This is very frightening," said Cathy Crowe, a =
well-known Toronto street nurse. "Many of us, including myself, have =
contracted inactive TB, but this is the first case I know of where a =
shelter worker contracted active TB."=20

                  Crowe said that 10 per cent of people with inactive =
TB, which has no symptoms and is not infectious, will go on to develop =
the active strain in their later years.=20

                  "What if this active case of TB is out there, floating =
around? We don't know who it is. What if that person is using the Out of =
the Cold shelter program...? Many homeless people sleep in a different =
place every night. The risk is very, very alarming."=20

                  The hunt for the tuberculosis carrier raises the =
spectre of Toronto's homeless problem.=20

                  With cold weather moving in, more men and women who =
can't afford other options are expected to crowd into the city's =
shelters.=20

                  At a news conference yesterday, Toronto's Medical =
Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, said the department is taking a =
"very aggressive" approach to tracking down whoever is ill with the =
disease.=20

                  There are as many as 400 cases of TB reported in =
Toronto each year, most of which, McKeown said, were contracted before =
the carriers came to Canada and become active later in life.=20

                  Among Toronto's homeless, there are between 10 to 15 =
cases diagnosed each year.=20

                  McKeown said there is little risk to the general =
public. "Tuberculosis is transmitted usually through close or prolonged =
contact. It's not generally transmitted on the subway, in the workplace, =
in schools," he said.=20

                  Nevertheless, McKeown said, "I think the continuing =
transmission is a concern in itself. We shouldn't be satisfied that we =
have 10 to 15 cases amongst the homeless each year."=20

                  The two shelter workers, who were not identified, are =
feeling fine, McKeown said.=20

                  "They have begun treatment and are no longer =
infectious. Normally, when people have received several weeks of =
treatment and are not infectious and they are feeling fine, they can go =
back to work."=20

                  The treatment usually lasts for nine months and =
involves taking several different kinds of antibiotics each day, he =
said.=20

                  As for the other four workers who have been diagnosed =
with inactive TB, there is no way of knowing what strain they carry =
unless the disease becomes active within their system, he said.=20

                  The health department expects it will take at least =
three weeks to collect the saliva samples, which will be sent to a =
provincial laboratory for testing. A May inquest into the 2001 =
tuberculosis death of Joseph Teigesser, a homeless man, came out with 13 =
recommendations, among them that the province should provide funding for =
TB prevention, detection and treatment.=20

                  But the inquest's jury didn't deliver the =
recommendation - suggested by all parties with standing - that the =
provincial and federal governments fund an affordable housing plan to =
end homelessness, said Crowe.=20

                  "For me, it connects with the homeless winter plan. =
Are we going to open up more shelters and ones that won't be just a lot =
of mats crowding people on the floor?"=20

                  Major Ken Percy of the Salvation Army said the Maxwell =
Meighen hostel is already running full to capacity every night.=20

                  "During a cold snap, they are lining up at 6 a.m. to =
reserve a bed for the following evening," Percy said.=20

                  Percy said the Maxwell Meighen shelter has some =
private rooms and many smaller rooms.=20




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      Legal Notice: Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All =
rights reserved. Distribution, transmission or republication of any =
material from www.thestar.com is strictly prohibited without the prior =
written permission of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. For information =
please contact us using our webmaster form. www.thestar.com online since =
1996.

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                <TD align=3Dmiddle width=3D"25%">&nbsp;</TD>
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                <TD class=3Ddate2>Nov.&nbsp;9, 2004</TD></TR>
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                            <TD><IMG height=3D134=20
                              =
src=3D"/images/thestar/img/041109_max_meighen_200.jpg"=20
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                            <TD class=3DPhotoCredit align=3Dright><FONT=20
                              face=3D"Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, =
sans-serif"=20
                              size=3D1>PETER POWER/TORONTO =
STAR</FONT></TD></TR>
                          <TR>
                            <TD class=3DPhotoCaption align=3Dleft><FONT=20
                              face=3D"Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, =
sans-serif"=20
                              size=3D1>Outside the Maxwell Meighen men's =
shelter=20
                              at Sherbourne and Queen Sts. yesterday, an =

                              unidentified homeless man shows his =
tuberculosis=20
                              records from=20
                      =
2002-2003.</FONT></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR>
                    <TR>
                      <TD width=3D175></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><FONT=20
                  face=3D"Times, Times New Roman, Serif, MS Serif" =
color=3D#000000=20
                  size=3D6>TB testing underway in homeless=20
                  shelters</FONT><BR><FONT=20
                  face=3D"Times, Times New Roman, Serif, MS Serif" =
color=3D#000000=20
                  size=3D4>Two workers being treated<BR>Little risk to =
public,=20
                  officials say</FONT><BR>
                  <P></P><FONT face=3Dsans-serif color=3D#000000 =
size=3D2>MOIRA=20
                  WELSH<BR></FONT><FONT face=3Dsans-serif =
color=3D#000000=20
                  size=3D1>STAFF REPORTER</FONT><BR><BR><FONT=20
                  face=3D"Times, Times New Roman, Serif, MS Serif" =
color=3D#000000=20
                  size=3D3>A massive hunt is underway for the homeless =
man who=20
                  infected two Toronto Salvation Army shelter workers =
with a=20
                  virulent strain of tuberculosis.=20
                  <P></P>Toronto Public Health has begun saliva testing =
of 4,000=20
                  homeless men and shelter workers in an attempt to stem =
the=20
                  transmission of the lung disease in the city's crowded =
shelter=20
                  system.=20
                  <P></P>Health officials said there is little risk to =
the=20
                  public.=20
                  <P></P>The health department decided to launch the =
testing=20
                  campaign after it discovered late last month that a =
shelter=20
                  worker at the Maxwell Meighen hostel at Sherbourne and =
Queen=20
                  Sts. tested positive for the same strain of active TB=20
                  contracted by a fellow worker who was tested in July.=20
                  <P></P>Their tuberculosis type matches the strain that =
was=20
                  responsible for an outbreak in the shelter system in =
2001.=20
                  Another four workers at the same shelter have tested =
positive=20
                  for inactive TB, but are currently not sick.=20
                  <P></P>"This is very frightening," said Cathy Crowe, a =

                  well-known Toronto street nurse. "Many of us, =
including=20
                  myself, have contracted inactive TB, but this is the =
first=20
                  case I know of where a shelter worker contracted =
active TB."=20
                  <P></P>Crowe said that 10 per cent of people with =
inactive TB,=20
                  which has no symptoms and is not infectious, will go =
on to=20
                  develop the active strain in their later years.=20
                  <P></P>"What if this active case of TB is out there, =
floating=20
                  around? We don't know who it is. What if that person =
is using=20
                  the Out of the Cold shelter program...? Many homeless =
people=20
                  sleep in a different place every night. The risk is =
very, very=20
                  alarming."=20
                  <P></P>The hunt for the tuberculosis carrier raises =
the=20
                  spectre of Toronto's homeless problem.=20
                  <P></P>With cold weather moving in, more men and women =
who=20
                  can't afford other options are expected to crowd into =
the=20
                  city's shelters.=20
                  <P></P>At a news conference yesterday, Toronto's =
Medical=20
                  Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, said the =
department is=20
                  taking a "very aggressive" approach to tracking down =
whoever=20
                  is ill with the disease.=20
                  <P></P>There are as many as 400 cases of TB reported =
in=20
                  Toronto each year, most of which, McKeown said, were=20
                  contracted before the carriers came to Canada and =
become=20
                  active later in life.=20
                  <P></P>Among Toronto's homeless,<B> </B>there are =
between 10=20
                  to 15 cases diagnosed each year.=20
                  <P></P>McKeown said there is little risk to the =
general=20
                  public. "Tuberculosis is transmitted usually through =
close or=20
                  prolonged contact. It's not generally transmitted on =
the=20
                  subway, in the workplace, in schools," he said.=20
                  <P></P>Nevertheless, McKeown said, "I think the =
continuing=20
                  transmission is a concern in itself. We shouldn't be =
satisfied=20
                  that we have 10 to 15 cases amongst the homeless each =
year."=20
                  <P></P>The two shelter workers, who were not =
identified, are=20
                  feeling fine, McKeown said.=20
                  <P></P>"They have begun treatment and are no longer=20
                  infectious. Normally, when people have received =
several weeks=20
                  of treatment and are not infectious and they are =
feeling fine,=20
                  they can go back to work."=20
                  <P></P>The treatment usually lasts for nine months and =

                  involves taking several different kinds of antibiotics =
each=20
                  day, he said.=20
                  <P></P>As for the other four workers who have been =
diagnosed=20
                  with inactive TB, there is no way of knowing what =
strain they=20
                  carry unless the disease becomes active within their =
system,=20
                  he said.=20
                  <P></P>The health department expects it will take at =
least=20
                  three weeks to collect the saliva samples, which will =
be sent=20
                  to a provincial laboratory for testing. A May inquest =
into the=20
                  2001 tuberculosis death of Joseph Teigesser, a =
homeless man,=20
                  came out with 13 recommendations, among them that the =
province=20
                  should provide funding for TB prevention, detection =
and=20
                  treatment.=20
                  <P></P>But the inquest's jury didn't deliver the=20
                  recommendation =97 suggested by all parties with =
standing =97 that=20
                  the provincial and federal governments fund an =
affordable=20
                  housing plan to end homelessness, said Crowe.=20
                  <P></P>"For me, it connects with the homeless winter =
plan. Are=20
                  we going to open up<B> </B>more shelters and ones that =
won't=20
                  be just a lot of mats crowding people on the floor?"=20
                  <P></P>Major Ken Percy of the Salvation Army said the =
Maxwell=20
                  Meighen hostel is already running full to capacity =
every=20
                  night.=20
                  <P></P>"During a cold snap, they are lining up at 6 =
a.m. to=20
                  reserve a bed for the following evening," Percy said.=20
                  <P></P>Percy said the Maxwell Meighen shelter has some =
private=20
                  rooms and many smaller rooms.=20
                  <P></P><BR>
                  <P =
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