A doctor with a practice in Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture saw over 600 patients the past few months while unknowingly infected with tuberculosis. What’s worse is that he wasn’t wearing a mask in most of those examinations, and it will take two to three months before symptoms will show if those people caught the deadly bacterial infection from him.
The name of the doctor and his clinic were not disclosed to the public, but reports from the health authorities say he began showing symptoms of the airborne disease mid-August, yet he felt that it was just a common head-cold. He continued seeing around 658 people, which includes patients (five of whom were children) and their family members, and clinic staff. Once his tuberculosis was confirmed, they sent letters to all of those who were examined by the doctor in that time period. The health authority spokesman said that only 10-15% of infected people manifest symptoms and that it takes 2-3 months before it shows. The doctor, said to be in his 50s, is currently undergoing treatment for the disease.
According to the World Health Organization website, 87% of those diagnosed with tuberculosis were successfully treated in 2010. They estimate that around one million people every year die from the potentially lethal disease. It is usually transmitted through coughing or sneezing, hence the large number of infected individuals.
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