Before Covid-19, there was tuberculosis (TB).
And if you think that TB is a disease of the 1970s, think again.
Because just recently, two TB clusters were reported in a Bedok Singapore Pools outlet.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a potentially serious infectious disease that attacks your lungs.
The disease is spread through the air in the form of water droplets when an infected individual coughs or sneezes.
While it’s highly contagious, patients will quickly become non-infectious after starting treatment.
For treatment, TB patients have to take a variety of different drugs for six to nine months.
The Two TB Clusters At Bedok Singapore Pools Outlet
On 21 Oct 2021, it was reported that there were two TB clusters, comprising of 18 cases, found at the Singapore Pools’ Bedok Betting Centre.
For the first cluster, the link was formed between five cases diagnosed between Jul 2018 and Feb 2020.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) was notified on 28 Jul 2020.
The second cluster consists of 13 cases diagnosed between Feb 2015 and Oct 2020.
MOH was alerted in the period between 1 Dec 2020 and 11 Jan 2021.
There were no other common links found for the 18 cases other than the Bedok Singapore Pools outlet where they frequently visited over months and years to watch horse races.
They do not know one another and were not identified as close contacts of each other.
TB Screening To Be Carried Out
The Singapore Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (STEP) has contacted the close contacts of the 18 confirmed TB cases for screening.
In addition, patrons who visited the Bedok Singapore Pools outlets between 12 Feb and 25 Mar 2020 will be contacted for the screening.
TB screening will also be offered to people who’ve spent “prolonged periods of cumulative days” at the outlet between 2018 and 25 Mar 2020 on a voluntary basis.
The screening, which is free of charge, will take place at the Tuberculosis Control Unit (TBCU) at 142 Moulmein Road.
Patrons who want more information can contact TBCU via phone (6258-3142) or email ([email protected]).
In addition, for patrons who wish to be screened, you can call the TBCU hotline on 6258-4430
Singapore Pools’ Response
On 20 Jan 2021, Singapore Pools responded to the two TB clusters found at one of their outlets.
In a statement, Singapore Pools said that they are providing “full assistance” to Step and urges customers to go for the screening if they are contacted.
In addition, more measures were implemented at the Bedok outlet as well, such as reminding their staff to look out for “customers who may be in poor health” and extra fans to improve air circulation.
“In addition, we are looking to install ultraviolet germicidal radiation machines before it resumes live-betting operations in the coming months.”
Up To Around 30% Of Older S’poreans Could Have TB
According to an ST report back in 2018, MOH had said that up to 30% of older Singaporeans here might have latent TB.
Latent TB is when you have the TB infection, but the bacteria in your body is inactive. At this stage, you are not infectious.
TB was more common in the 1970s, and older Singaporeans could’ve been infected with when younger.
But as they grow older, their immune system weakens and the TB bacteria become active.
That’s when they’ll become infectious and develop symptoms such as coughing persistently, getting feverish and experiencing chest pain.
Latent TB is easier to deal with than its active counterpart, requiring only one drug to cure instead of four.
This is the reason why over the past years, Singapore’s health community has been stepping up efforts against TB, including sending HIV patients, and other patients with weakened immune systems, for screening.
Featured Image: Musashi akira / Shutterstock.com