herald

Friday 18 January 2019

Children to get second round of TB checks

ALMOST 200 children and adults at an Irish primary school face a second round of TB screening. Health chiefs have now ordered the second round of screening at Ballintemple primary school in Cork, where 37 TB cases have already been confirmed over the past month.

Health chiefs have now ordered the second round of screening at Ballintemple primary school in Cork, where 37 TB cases have already been confirmed over the past month.

Parents were shocked to receive a letter from the HSE revealing that a second full round of TB screening will now be conducted.

The 37 TB detections involve six full-blown cases of the highly infectious respiratory disease -- and 31 "latent" or non-active TB cases. "Latent" TB is not infectious but, unless it is properly treated, it can over time develop into full-blown TB.

The national school re-opened a fortnight ago amid HSE assurances that no-one at the school was infectious because of ongoing treatment.

However, despite an exhaustive screening programme that has lasted for over a month, health experts have not been able to pinpoint the source of the largest TB outbreak in Ireland over recent years.

Privately, health officials acknowledged the failure to locate the primary source of the TB infection is a matter of concern.

Now, the HSE has ordered a second full-round of screening at the 220-pupil school.



Attack

The letter -- dated September 14 and received by most families yesterday -- advised parents that the TB detections to date had involved "an extremely high attack rate".

It also pointed out that such a localised concentration of TB cases was "an extremely unusual event" in scientific and public health terms.

Now, the HSE will re-screen all pupils and adults in the school who tested negative in the previous screening round.

If anyone tests positive for full-blown or latent TB, they will then immediately commence a course of treatment with strong antibiotics.

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