The HSE has confirmed that routine screening is being carried out after one case of TB was identified in Ennis.
It’s understood parents of students at St Flannan’s College, who may have come into contact with the infectious disease, have been notified.
The health service cannot comment on individual cases but says that in the case of any potential outbreak, those who may have come in contact with the infection, are screened, as a precautionary measure.
Specialist in Public Health, Dr Rose Fitzgerald has been telling me that while up to 20 cases are identified annually in the Mid-West, it represents a significant drop in recent years.
Further Information From The HSE:
The Department of Public Health does not comment on the management or investigation of individual cases of tuberculosis. All cases are managed and investigated as per national guidance, available here. Although Tuberculosis is contagious (i.e.can spread from one person to another), it’s not easy to catch.
If a person is diagnosed with TB, the person is offered treatment as soon as possible. When a case of TB is notified to the Department of Public Health a doctor investigates to find out if there are other cases of TB or latent TB infection (LTBI) among the contacts of the person with TB. LBTI means a patient is infected with the tuberculosis bug but the patient does not have active tuberculosis. If a person is diagnosed with LTBI, he/she may be offered preventive medication that can reduce their risk of becoming ill with TB.
What is a ‘contact’ of TB?
A ‘contact’ of TB is someone who has spent a lot of time with somebody who has TB.
What is contact tracing and why is it necessary?
People who have been in close contact with someone who has TB may need to be checked for TB. This is called contact tracing and is organised by the Department of Public Health The aim of contact tracing is to stop the spread of TB and to reduce illness among those who have been in contact with TB patients. Each situation is different and will be assessed by the Department of Public Health.
Contacts with greatest exposure to the case are screening first. Closest contacts are those who live in the same house as a person with TB and these are screened first. Other groups of contacts are screened after this if necessary e.g. workplace of school depending on the situation.
Contacts are offered a contact tracing appointment. This may be held in a workplace or school or in a hospital outpatient clinic.
The first test is usually a skin test (called a Mantoux test). It involves a small injection into the arm. The results of this test will be read in 2-3 days. The doctor will decide what other tests you need based on this result.
Will I need treatment if I have been in contact with someone with TB?
· If you have active TB disease, you will be sent to a doctor for TB treatment.
· If you have latent TB infection, you may be advised to take a course of medicine.
Can I carry on with my day to day activities?
There is no reason to stop any of your daily activities. Even if you have been in contact with someone who has infectious TB, you have only a small chance of developing TB disease. You have an even smaller chance of having the type of TB that can be passed on to other people. There is no need to take time off work or school.
World TB day
World TB day on 24th March commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the TB bacillus which caused tuberculosis and aims to increase public and professional awareness about TB. TB disease is preventable and treatable and one of the targets of “The Stop TB Partnership” hosted at the World Health Organization (WHO) is that the incidence of TB disease worldwide will be less than 1 case per million population (Elimination of TB as a global public health problem) by 2050.
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB usually affects the lungs but can affect other parts of the body.
In Ireland, the rates of TB have declined in recent years. 318 cases (6.9 cases per 100,000) were reported in 2014, (16 cases in the Mid West), 303 cases (6.6 cases per 100,000) were reported in 2015 (15 cases in the Mid West) and 319 cases (7 cases per 100,000) were reported in 2016 (27 cases in the Mid West).
This decline is considerable when compared to the 1990s with 604 cases reported in 1992 (17.1 cases per 100,000). The decline has been even more considerable since the early 1950s when 7,000 cases of TB were notified annually.
In 1993, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared TB a ‘global emergency’ in response to a resurgence in cases, following nearly a century of decline. WHO has estimated that globally there were 8.7 million new cases of TB in 2011. TB is still a problem and worldwide, TB remains one of the leading causes of death from infectious disease with WHO reporting that approximately 1.4 million TB deaths occurred globally in 2011.
What are the symptoms of active TB disease?
TB disease develops slowly in the body. It may take several months for the symptoms to appear. Any of the following symptoms may be a sign of TB:
• Fever and night sweats
• Cough for more than three weeks
• Losing weight
• Blood in sputum (phlegm)
How is TB spread?
The TB germ is usually spread in the air. Some people with TB of the lungs have infectious TB. This means that they can pass TB to other people. The germ gets into the air when someone who has infectious TB coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. Usually you need to be in close contact for a long time with someone who has infectious TB to become infected with the TB germ yourself.
Can anyone get TB?
Yes, anyone can get TB but you are at greater risk if you live in the same house as the person who is sick or if you are in very close contact with them. Only a small number of people who breathe in the TB germ get sick. This can happen within a couple of months of exposure or many years later.
What is the difference between latent TB infection and active TB disease?
When TB germs first enter your body, they cause latent TB infection. This means that the germs are ‘asleep’ in your body. If you do not have treatment, latent TB infection can become active TB disease.