Japan doctor gets TB, 400 patients to be checked

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TOKYO, Oct 3 (Reuters) About 400 people will be tested for tuberculosis in central Japan after their doctor was diagnosed with the disease, the local government said.

The doctor, aged about 70, had been coughing and breathing heavily since January but was not diagnosed until last month.

The local government in Gifu, 270 kilometres west of Tokyo, has sent check-up requests to 415 of the doctor's patients, including babies and elderly people who run the highest risk of infection.

None of the staff at the clinic where the doctor works have come down with the disease.

The doctor has treated 1,695 patients since January, but the local government yesterday said it was unlikely that any would have been infected as the doctor would only have spent a brief time seeing each patient.

If any of the 415 to be checked are found to have contracted the disease, Gifu will extend the check-ups to the other patients, a local government spokesman said.

Tuberculosis is still common in Japan, where the proportion of new patients in the population is 4.4 times higher than in the United States. The disease infects 80 and kills six every day in Japan, according to the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association.

REUTERS SG BST1322

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