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The Public Health Agency and Northern Health and Social Care Trust have made arrangements for approximately 30 pupils and relevant staff who attend Ballyclare High School to be offered screening for Tuberculosis (TB) on Wednesday, 20 January.

This action is being taken as a precautionary measure in line with standard national 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 Public Health Agency and Northern Trust will be available to talk to parents at the school.

Dr Michael Devine, Consultant in Communicable Disease, Public Health Agency, 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 Northern Trust.”

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 David Knox, Principal, Ballyclare High School, has given his school’s support for the screening programme. He said:

“Our first concern is for our student who is currently in hospital. 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 on Monday to all parents to inform and reassure them of the situation. Staff from the Public Health Agency and Northern Trust 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 co-operation at this time.”

Further information

Nataleen Surgenor / Elizabeth Owen
Public Relations Office, Public Health Agency
Tel: (028) 2531 1015 / Out of Hours Pager: 07699 783371

Notes to the editor

The Public Health Agency confirmed that the pupil is making good progress.

1,210 pupils attend Ballyclare High School.

During 2008 there were approximately 66 cases of TB across 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.