No new active TB cases at N.B. fish plant, says Cooke Aquaculture

A worker at the True North Salmon Company's fish plant in Blacks Harbour, N.B., tested positive for tuberculosis last Thursday, prompting Public Health to test other employees who were on the same shift, says company spokesperson Joel Richardson. (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)
A worker at the True North Salmon Company's fish plant in Blacks Harbour, N.B., tested positive for tuberculosis last Thursday, prompting Public Health to test other employees who were on the same shift, says company spokesperson Joel Richardson. (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)

Public Health officials have not reported any more cases of tuberculosis among staff at a New Brunswick fish processing plant, according to a company spokesperson.

An employee of True North Salmon Company in Blacks Harbour, N.B., tested positive for tuberculosis, or TB, last Thursday, prompting mass testing of staff at the facility owned by Cooke Aquaculture.

Tests of 55 employees didn't reveal any new cases as of Friday, said company spokesperson Joel Richardson.

"Public Health will go through additional analysis over the course of the next few days and that will be reaffirmed by Public Health next week," Richardson said.

Adam Bowie, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, said in an email to CBC News that Public Health investigators have identified all people who may have been affected.

"Even though Public Health cannot comment on specifics, the department can say that anyone who may have been exposed to tuberculosis has been contacted directly, and anyone needing follow-up care is being informed," Bowie said.

Canadian Press
Canadian Press

TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread from person to person through the air, according to a New Brunswick Public Health fact sheet about the disease. The bacteria are transmitted through coughing, sneezing and talking when in close, frequent and prolonged contact with someone who has active TB, according to Public Health.

"Tuberculosis cases occur every year in New Brunswick and are managed by Public Health, under the guidance of the Regional Medical Officer of Health," Bowie said.

Richardson said the 55 employees at the fish plant who were tested had been working on the same shift as the employee who later positive. The infected employee left work at the first signs of symptoms and tested positive for the disease two weeks later, he added.

Another 32 employees at the plant didn't work the same shift as the infected employee and so were only screened for symptoms as they were deemed to be at low risk of infection, Richardson said.