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Year six students screened after teaching assistant at The Business Academy Bexley contracts tuberculosis

PUBLISHED: 12:05 21 July 2017

Parents taking their children out of the classroom during term time face fines from Kent County Council

Parents taking their children out of the classroom during term time face fines from Kent County Council

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Parents were informed earlier this month

Pupils as young as 10-years-old have been screened for tuberculosis at The Business Academy Bexley after a teaching assistant contracted the infectious disease.

The Erith academy, which covers primary and secondary education, was made aware of the case earlier this month by Public Health England.

A letter was sent to parents warning them of the case on July 10, with PHE bringing in specialist nurses to test those who had the “most significant contact” with the patient.

Students aged 10-15 used to receive the BCG jab to protect against TB but the injection was scrapped in 2005.

According to NHS Choices, the jab is still available to children who “have an increased risk of developing” the disease, either because they have arrived from at-risk countries in Africa, Asia or eastern Europe or they have come into contact with an infected TB patient.

A spokesperson from the school said: “The academy was notified by PHE that a year six teaching assistant had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and was being treated by specialist services.

“They were able to confirm the member of staff responded well to treatment and is no longer infectious.

“As part of the procedure for dealing with such cases, PHE came into the academy to carry out a risk assessment.

“As a precaution they screened all year six staff and pupils. As part of the screening they provided fact sheets and advice to pupils and parents.

“The academy continues to follow the advice and guidance of PHE and staff and parents will be kept informed.

“There have been no other reported cases.”

Jane de Burgh, public health specialist at PHE’s South London Health Protection Team, said: “TB is a disease that typically requires close, prolonged and frequent contact before transmission occurs.

“Because of this, the greatest risk of spread is to people who live in the same household as a person with this disease. The risk to other contacts, including those in a school setting, is low.

“However, we are working closely with the school to follow national guidelines, which include identifying those with significant contact and arranging TB screening for them.

“It is important that everyone is aware of the symptoms of TB, which include a prolonged unexplained cough, fevers and weight loss. Greater awareness can mean the condition is diagnosed much faster.”

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