​Calgary’s tuberculosis clinic is facing a surge in demand as the number of active cases in the city has increased by 42 per cent since 2010.

The Calgary region saw 64 people with active TB in 2010, but that number has risen to 91 people last year. The number of latent cases requiring treatment is also on the rise, from 175 in 2010 to 294 last year.

The same trend is happening across the province.

Dr. Judy MacDonald, Calgary’s medical officer of health, says staff at the city’s one TB clinic identified they were having trouble keeping up with demand, so Alberta Health Services is reviewing the clinic’s operations.

Dr. Annalee Coakley, at Calgary’s Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic, says all newcomers are now screened for tuberculosis. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

“Recognizing that there was demands that the staff were saying we’re having trouble meeting these needs, what do we need to do?”

MacDonald says the increase in TB rates is due, in large part, to an influx of immigrants and refugees from high-risk countries.

Increased screening

More rigorous screening is also helping.

All newcomers at Calgary’s Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic are now screened for tuberculosis.

Dr. Annalee Coakley said the policy was adopted a few years ago. “In the clinic, we’re picking up much more latent TB and treating many more cases of latent TB.”

That means more people are being treated before their infection becomes active and contagious.

Coakley said a recent influx of Tibetan refugees is also contributing to the increase.

In 2011, the federal government announced a temporary public policy that would allow 1,000 displaced Tibetans, who were living in North-East India, to resettle in Canada.

Coakley said about 150 Tibetan refugees have come through her clinic since the program began. Many of these newcomers have a high risk for latent TB and most screen positive, she said.