Tuesday 25 June 2019

Irish school conducting health screening of all staff, students after two pupils diagnosed with TB

Glanmire Community School is conducting a school-wide screening
Glanmire Community School is conducting a school-wide screening

Ralph Riegel

AN IRISH school is conducting health screening of all its teachers and pupils after two students were diagnosed with TB.

Glanmire Community College (GCC) confirmed it is following health screening protocols after it was confirmed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) that two of its students were diagnosed with TB.

"We can confirm that Glanmire Community College was recently contacted by the HSE to inform us that two members of our school community were diagnosed with Tuberculosis," GCC Principal Ronan McCarthy confirmed.

"The HSE is managing the situation and the school is acting on its advice."

"The HSE met with school management to discuss further actions and procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of all students, staff and families of the school."

"We are reassured by the work and diligence of the HSE in dealing with the matter and we would like to extend our appreciation to their staff for their professional and sensitive approach."

"The two individuals affected are currently under the care of the HSE and are undergoing treatment."

"So far, approximately 200 students and 34 teachers have been screened by HSE staff and screening of the remaining students and teachers is currently underway."

"The results will be monitored on an ongoing basis and acted upon by the HSE when and where necessary," Mr McCarthy said.

The HSE have contacted the families of all students attending the college to outline the detailed screening steps to be put in place if any further detections are confirmed.

A number of callers contacted Cork's 96FM today amid concerns over just how widespread the screening programme would be in Glanmire, formerly a village but which is now effectively a suburb of Cork city with a booming number of young families.

Ireland is now dealing with an average of a new TB case almost every day despite a 34pc decline in detections over the past eight years.

The latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) statistics revealed Ireland dealt with 318 cases of TB in 2016 - an increase of 22 or 8pc on the previous year.

However, health officials have welcomed the fact that there has been a significant overall decline in the number of TB detections in Ireland since 2009.

This has been attributed to better screening systems, earlier treatment and reduced migration from areas where TB is virtually endemic.

Ireland recorded a surge of TB detections in 2009 when 479 cases were confirmed. That came as TB detections and precautionary screenings were ordered in a school, two creches, a prison and even a hospital.

However, TB detections have consistently fallen since then.

There were 420 cases in 2010, 411 in 2011, 358 in 2012, 370 in 2013, 313 in 2014 and 294 in 2015.

At one point, almost half the primary cases of TB being dealt by the Heath Service Executive (HSE) involved patients born outside Ireland.

The latest decline marks a significant improvement on Ireland’s TB detection rates in the 1990s when 604 cases were detected nationally in 1992.

However, that rate was still vastly lower than the 1950s when over 7,000 cases a year were being diagnosed.

The HPSC noted that TB detection rates amongst those born outside Ireland are significantly higher than in the indigenous population.

“In 2009, the notification rate for TB in the indigenous population was 7.6 per 100,000 while the rate in foreign-born persons was 33.6 per 100,000,” an official explained.

The age groups which reported the greatest rate of detection were those aged from 20-35 and those aged over 65.

However, there was a notable difference in age between cases involving those born in Ireland and those born overseas.

TB detections amongst Irish-born cases involved an average age of 49 years.

In contrast, those born overseas and detected with TB had an average age of 30 years.

For the past decade, between 40pc and 44pc of TB cases detected involve people born outside Ireland.

In the UK, almost 9,000 TB cases are detected annually with Ireland now amongst the EU countries reporting the lowest per capita detection rates.

Both the HSE and the HSPC said that vigorous follow-ups on all TB reports have proven enormously successful.

The disease, because of its highly contagious nature, requires prompt treatment and identification of all those who came in contact with the individual involved.

The bacteria, usually Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, targets the respiratory system and the lungs but can also infect the bones, joints, spine, urinary and lymphatic systems.

It is usually spread by contaminated droplets in a sneeze, cough or via direct contact with the infected person.

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