Karen is a Tuberculosis (TB) survivor.  After her son was born she began to have fevers, chills, and coughing.  Initially, she was misdiagnosed with pneumonia.  When the pneumonia treatment did not work, they did another x-ray and knew for sure it was TB.  It was a long journey for Karen, including a collapsed lung, and intubation for a number of weeks.  During this time they kept testing her baby expecting him to have TB as well.  Eventually, it presented as TB in his ear.  Both Karen and her son have successfully completed treatment and are thankful to have their health.  Read Karen’s Story – and others like it.


“Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.”  -CDC


Tuberculosis Myths:

  1. TB is avoidable – if you make good choices you won’t get it – FALSE – TB is spread by the air.  If someone has TB and coughs those nearby can acquire the bacteria.  If their immune systems are not strong they will develop TB Disease.  Otherwise it will sit dormant in their lungs until their immune system fails them.
  2. TB is GeneticFALSE – it uses airborne transmission.  Having family members with the disease only increases your chances of acquiring it due to increased exposure.
  3. TB isn’t a problem todayFALSE – TB is alive and thriving.  While it is rare in the general population of Canadian cities (0.6/100 000 people), it is a public health crisis in many Indigenous populations.
  4. TB is IncurableFALSE – there are a number of effective treatments available, but it is a hard road to recovery.



Tuberculosis in Manitoba

As you can see in the graph below, the Northern Regional Health Authority Tuberculosis rates are much higher.    Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis) are most at risk for TB due to crowded and poor quality housing, food insecurity, and barriers to health care access.

Manitoba RHA Comparison per 100, 000 people

TB Distribution among Indigenous Populations:

  • 0.6 per 100,000 among Canadian-born, non-Indigenous people;
  • 23.8 per 100,000 among all First Nations people;
  • 170.1 per 100,000 among Inuit;
  • 2.1 per 100,000 among Métis people.       source

This is exactly why equal health care for Indigenous populations is so important.

TB Disease Symptoms


TB Symptoms – So Similar to Covid-19

  • a cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
  • fever
  • chills
  • night sweats
  • loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
  • bone pain

The symptoms of TB and Covid are very similar.  If your Covid test comes back negative and you continue to have a cough, fever, and chills testing for Tuberculosis may be something to discuss with your doctor.

If your doctor suspects TB they may order a skin or blood test.  The skin test is performed by injecting a small amount of test fluid into the skin.  Upon a return visit in 48-72 hours to assess the reaction.   Blood tests take only one visit and can be more precise in their diagnosis.

A follow-up chest X-Ray or CT scan will look for visible signs of TB in your lungs.


Tuberculosis Affects Real People

Everyone has a mom, a dad, friends, siblings, neighbours.  Tuberculosis affects the one with the disease and every person their lives touch.  TB requires its targets to be warriors to beat it and those warriors need an army of support.  Fight TB!  Get tested – Get Treatment!


TB Prevention

Much like Covid, TB is transmitted through the air from an infected person’s saliva.  This means that TB prevention and Covid prevention are overlapping.  Masking, hand washing, and distancing are all effective for TB as well as Covid.

If, however, you are in contact with someone who has TB it is important to be tested immediately.



Do you have concerns about your health?  Looking for a doctor?  Sabe Wellness offers virtual healthcare anywhere you are!  All you need is a phone line!   www.SabeWellness.ca    Breaking Barriers in Healthcare.