The Public Health Agency (PHA) and Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT) have made arrangements for approximately 50 pupils who attend St Michael’s Grammar School in Lurgan to be offered screening for tuberculosis (TB) on Wednesday 20 April.
This action is being taken as a precautionary measure in line with standard guidance following confirmation that a pupil at the school is being treated for TB.
A letter and a TB fact sheet has been sent to the parents of all children who attend the school and staff from the PHA and SHSCT will be available to talk to parents at the school.
Dr Michael Devine, Consultant in Communicable Disease, PHA, said: “I would like to reassure parents and those who attend the school that children with TB are rarely infectious to others and the risk to pupils and staff at the school is low.
"A number of people who have been in close contact with the patient have been identified and are being offered preliminary screening as a standard precautionary measure. This will involve a skin test (Mantoux test) which will be carried out by healthcare professionals from the SHSCT."
Dr Devine continued: “TB is a serious but curable infectious disease which normally affects the lungs but it can affect other parts of the body. It is usually spread through the air when a patient coughs or sneezes. TB is a difficult infection to catch and usually requires prolonged close contact.”
Mr Gerard Adams, Principal, St Michael’s Grammar School, has given his school’s support for the screening programme. He said: “Our first concern is for our student who is currently being treated for TB. On behalf of all staff and pupils at the school I would like to send our very best wishes for a speedy recovery. We must also look to ensuring the health and wellbeing of all our other pupils and so we have screening taking place as a standard precautionary measure.
“I appreciate that parents will be concerned and a letter and fact sheet were posted to all parents to inform and reassure them of the situation. Staff from the Public Health Agency and SHSCT will also be at the school to respond to any questions and to reassure parents.
“We will make every effort to ensure that screening is undertaken as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to the school. I would like to thank parents and pupils for their cooperation at this time.”
The most common symptoms of TB include:
- a persistent cough that gets progressively worse over several weeks;
- loss of weight for no obvious reason;
- fever and heavy night sweats;
- a general and unusual sense of tiredness and being unwell;
- coughing up blood.
All of these may also be signs of other problems but if you have them and are worried, talk to a doctor or nurse at your local surgery or clinic.
For more information on TB, visit: http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/TB%20factsheet_0.pdf
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
The Public Health Agency confirmed that the pupil is making good progress.
570 pupils attend St Michaels Grammar School.
There are approximately 70 cases of TB every year in Northern Ireland.
Due to patient confidentiality and the duty to respect a person’s privacy the Public Health Agency is not in a position to release personal information.