One person has died of tuberculosis (TB) in the west coast city of Pori, the Satakunta central hospital reports.
The patient in question is a middle-aged man with a foreign background who had lived in the town for many years, the hospital says. He had very advanced tuberculosis of the lungs and larynx and passed away on Wednesday last week, five days after he was admitted to hospital.
The City of Pori, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Satakunta health care district have begun investigations into the condition of some 60 people who came into contact with the man and have experienced symptoms that could indicate TB.
The authorities have also held briefings on how to prevent the airborne disease from spreading.
236 TB cases last year
Twenty of the total 60 potentially infected people – five patients and 15 staff members – are believed to have been exposed to the tuberculosis bacteria inside the hospital.
A total of 236 cases of TB were documented in Finland last year. Lung disease organisation Filha estimates that about 20 people – or about one in ten patients – die annually of the illness in Finland.
Tuberculosis was widespread in Finland in the early 20th century. People who contract the disease may carry it undetected in their system for decades.
However, Filha says that only one third of adults exposed to the bacterium contract the infection, and only one tenth of these actually fall ill.
Tuberculosis is not especially contagious, with infection likely only after close, prolonged contact. TB is treated with more than six months of combination drugs, which are effective against the disease when caught early.