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Pupils taken ill in Tuberculosis outbreak at Beckton school

13:10 06 August 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Twenty pupils have tested positive for tuberculosis after an ­outbreak of the killer disease at a Newham secondary school.

A total of 83 students at Kingsford Community School, Kingsfiord Way, Beckton, were tested before the end of term last month, it emerged, ­after a fellow pupil was diagnosed with the ­infectious strain of the disease.

Students who came into close contact with the boy were tested in June and July after some ­developed symptoms following the ­pupil’s diagnosis in May.

Of those screened, 17 tested positive for “latent” TB, meaning they experience no symptoms, and three were diagnosed with “active” TB, which presents symptoms like coughing and ­fever but is not contagious.

The 20 students are receiving specialist treatment, including a course of antibiotics to wipe out the disease.

The boy with “full blown” TB was taken out of school and treated, and was well enough to return before the end of term.

Public Health England (PHE) said the students may not have caught the disease from the first boy, as Newham already has a high incidence of TB.

Rosemary Stephens, whose son Edward was diagnosed with “latent” TB, received a letter from the school in May saying her son would need to be screened.

“One of the boys that my son talks to at school came in with a really bad cough,” she said. “The boy had been coughing up blood.

“Then we received a letter saying Edward had to be screened. My son has to take tablets. He’s never taken tablets and he’s having a really hard time.

“I have a feeling it’s going to ­interfere with his schooling.”

She added: “All his friends are on antibiotics as well. It’s really scary, because it’s a killer. It can kill you.”

Dr Simon Cathcart, director of PHE’s north east London health protection team, said: “TB is a disease that typically requires close, prolonged and frequent contact before transmission ­occurs.

“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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