Students, staff screened after two pupils test positive for TB
More than 250 students and teachers are undergoing health screening after two pupils at a secondary school tested positive for TB.
Health chiefs and school officials said that a wider screening programme may be implemented if further TB cases are confirmed at Glanmire Community College (GCC) in Co Cork.
The college said it is following strict health screening protocols after it was confirmed by the HSE that two of its students were diagnosed with TB.
The latest TB detections came after cases of the illness were uncovered over recent years in a primary school, a créche and even an Irish prison.
Ireland is now dealing with an average of one new TB case almost every day despite a 34pc decline in detections over the past eight years.
"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 said.
"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 under way.
"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.
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria that most often affect the lungs. It is curable and preventable. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
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.
Figures for 2017 are not yet available. 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.