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TB alert as five cases are confirmed at secondary school

Experts move to reassure parents at Parliament Hill School

15 November, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Parliament Hill School

STUDENTS and staff at a Camden secondary school will be screened for tuberculosis after five confirmed cases of the infection in pupils.

Public Health England (PHE) say parents at Parliament Hill School are being kept up to date on the situation and can meet face to face with them to ask any questions.

TB is a bacterial infection which mainly affects the lungs. Its symptoms include a chronic cough, fatigue, weight loss, weakness, fever, sweating, loss of appetite and swellings that persist.

PHE confirmed to the New Journal this week it is working with Camden Council and the NHS after five confirmed cases of TB in pupils at the girls’ school.

It said that screening will begin in January, but those who started at the school from September will be exempt as there have been no infectious cases of TB at the school since the start of the academic year.

Headteacher Sarah Creasy said: “Public Health England are keeping us updated about the screening that will take place in January.

“They have been into school to provide information and have offered question and answer sessions which have been helpful and reassuring.”

Dr Edward Wynne-Evans, head of PHE’s local health protection team, said: “I want to reassure the school community that TB is a curable infection when treated with a full course of antibiotics. As the TB cases haven’t been confined to one specific year group, the decision has been made to offer TB screening to all students and staff who were at the school in the last academic year up to July 2019.”

He added: “We will offer TB screening in January 2020. It can take between four to eight weeks after being exposed to TB for a new TB infection to show up as positive on the screening test. Screening in January will help ensure that we do not miss any new cases by screening too early.”

TB cases in England and Wales have declined in recent years, but London accounts for the highest figures reported.

In Camden there has been a significant fall from an average of 51.1 cases per 100,000 people in 2001 to 2003, to just 15.4 cases per 100,000 of the population in 2016 to 2018. This is below the most recent London average of 21.9.

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