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Tuberculosis Screening Identifies a Suspected Case

March 14, 2008 6:30 PM

Following a confirmed case of TB in a teacher at Notre Dame Primary School in Glasgow in January this year, the Public Health Protection Unit has now completed the first stage of a precautionary screening process of all children and staff at the school.

Through this precautionary screening a suspected case in a pupil has subsequently been identified. It is not known however, whether this suspected illness is related to that of the confirmed case in January.

The patient is not thought to be infectious and was identified after additional screening was carried out following a positive skin test. The patient is currently being treated at home with antibiotics and is expected to make a full recovery.

A further 19 children from the school have had positive skin test reactions. This is not unexpected or uncommon and does not mean that these children will go on to develop TB. The majority of people exposed to the TB bacteria do not develop the full disease and are therefore not a risk to others. However, as a precautionary measure some of these children may require a shorter course of antibiotic to prevent the TB bacteria from ever developing into the full TB disease in later life.

Dr Oliver Blatchford, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde explained: “It is important to stress that positive skin test reactions are not unusual when screening a large number of people and we expected to see a number of positive skin test results.

“One of the problems of TB is that many people have had exposure to TB bacteria, often from different sources, however most do not develop full TB disease. Amongst the normal population in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, around 4% of people have had some degree of exposure to TB bacteria in the community. Despite this level of exposure, only around 200 people each year develop a full TB disease in the area.

“In these circumstances our screening programme at the school was very likely to uncover some individuals who have been exposed to TB bacteria in the normal course of their lives.”

The Public Health Protection Unit is continuing to liaise closely with the parents of the children receiving further assessment.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
What is Tuberculosis (TB)?

TB is an infection caused by a germ, which usually affects the lungs but can also develop in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or glands.

It is not a common disease but if it is not discovered and treated, then it can be serious.

How do you catch it?

You may catch TB if you are in prolonged contact with someone who is coughing up TB germs. You would need to have close prolonged contact with the person to become infected, although prolonged contact does not necessarily indicate that you have contracted the infection.

You cannot contract TB by sharing the same dishes and household items and you cannot carry the TB germ back to your own family if you yourself have had contact with a TB case and have no symptoms.

It is possible for someone to contract TB and not show symptoms for one or two years after exposure. These people can test negative on screening, but go on to later develop symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Prolonged cough -dry or with a spit
Weight loss
Loss of appetite
High temperature or excessive sweating particularly at night and lasting for two weeks or more
Coughing up blood or dirty spit
Chest tightness or pain

For further media information contact 0141 201 4429.

 

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