TB found in pupils
PUBLISHED: 17:11 15 December 2008 | UPDATED: 09:21 11 August 2010
ALL CHILDREN and staff at a Dagenham junior school have been tested for potentially deadly tuberculosis after doctors discovered a small number of active cases among pupils. Around 360 children and staff members were tested for TB at Cambell Junior Scho
ALL CHILDREN and staff at a Dagenham junior school have been tested for potentially deadly tuberculosis after doctors discovered 'a small number' of active cases among pupils.
Around 360 children and staff members were tested for TB at Cambell Junior School in Langley Crescent, Dagenham, on Monday (December 8).
The news was given to a heated meeting held at the school on Friday between parents and representatives of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and NHS.
The decision followed the testing of all year five pupils after a child was diagnosed with the disease last month.
Of those, 25 were found to be suffering from the latent form of TB and were sent to Queen's Hospital for further tests which further revealed a 'small proportion' were suffering from the active form of the disease.
A spokeswoman for the HPA would not disclose the exact number but said it was "fewer than five".
The POST was barred from attending the Friday meeting, but parents said it was a stormy affair lasting nearly two hours.
A mum, who would only give her name as Lisa, 31, has two children at the school, and one who left last July.
She said: "The parents were arguing and rowing with them. People were saying that they had known about it a month ago, and that the school should have been closed.
"The whole school is being tested now but this should've been done at the very beginning."
Another mum, who asked not to be named, said: "My son has a latent infection and I have to give him medication every morning, its heart-breaking.
"I'm so angry we weren't given more information. The school and HPA should have told us long ago."
Some parents questioned why a year six school trip to Trewern in Wales was allowed to go ahead a fortnight ago. The HPA spokeswoman said that because of the nature of the outbreak, none of the children were infectious and there was no reason to cancel it.
Doctors have assured parents that none of the children now shown to be infected are contagious.
Dr Tania Misra, a consultant from the North East and North Central Health Protection Unit, said: "These children are all being individually assessed by clinicians, and are not infectious.
"It is important to stress that those with a latent infection do not have TB, but are taking antibiotics to prevent them from developing it at a later stage in life, as a result of this exposure."
It will take about a fortnight until parents know the results of Monday's tests, and the doctors say children with active TB will be given a six month course of antibiotics, while those with latent TB will be given short courses.
There are no plans to test pupils at neighbouring Cambell Infants' because the original infected pupil had no contact with the infants and Cambell Junior School will not be closed because there are no infectious pupils there.
All children who left the school last July will also be screened for TB, but not until January.
Matthew Cole, Director of Public Health, NHS Barking and Dagenham said: "Because we have found some possible cases of TB in those who have come into close contact with the person who initially had TB we will now be extending our screening to the rest of the school as a precautionary measure.
"We understand this is concerning for parents, and we are keeping them well informed.
"I will be holding a meeting with parents this week along with representatives from the Health Protection Agency, so that we can answer all their questions.
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