Beckton school’s second case of TB in one year

Testing for tuberculosis at a specialist lab. Picture by: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Testing for tuberculosis at a specialist lab. Picture by: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The country’s top health authority has intervened after a second case of tuberculosis was confirmed at a school.

Public Health England (PHE) carried out a screening at Beckton’s Kingsford Community School on June 12 and 15 following the April confirmation.

It is the second intervention in one year, but PHE has praised the school for its efforts in tackling the disease, commonly known as TB.

Dr Deborah Turbitt, of PHE London, said the body had worked “closely with the school at every stage”, adding: “We have also worked with the school to ensure parents, staff and students were fully aware of the issues.

“TB is a disease that typically requires close, prolonged and frequent contact before transmission occurs.

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“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.”

One parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her daughter had contracted Latent TB as a result of exposure to the child who had been diagnosed with TB.

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“I sent my children to be educated – not to get TB,” she said. “I think it’s disgusting to go to school and come home with that.”

Newham has the highest rate of TB across all London boroughs – with 108 active cases per 100,000 people, compared with the London average of 41 per 100,000.

With drug-resistant strains emerging, contributing factors include poor housing and the fact one third of Newham’s population was born oversees – many from countries with high levels of TB.

Mayoral advisor for adults and health, Cllr Clive Furness, said Newham’s situation was “unique”.

“We do face a unique challenge in terms of deprivation, a highly-transient population and poor- quality private housing,” he said.

“The disease requires prolonged exposure to an infected person to be passed on – which means overcrowding in houses can contribute to its spread.

“This is one of the issues our pioneering licensing scheme for all privately-rented homes in the borough is helping to tackle. Our scheme limits the number of people per room of a property.”

Since the council’s push against poorly-managed houses of multiple occupation began in 2013, 518 prosecutions have been brought.

The council, working with NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group, began mapping active TB cases in 2013.

After finding carriers of Latent TB are most likely to develop the disease fully if they are aged between 16 and 35 and arrived here two to five years ago from places with high TB rates, Newham GPs screen people who fall in that high risk group when they register.

Of the 3,272 patients screened from July 2014 to March 2015, 886 had latent TB and 285 have completed the three-month treatment.

And from 2011 to 2014 new notifcations of TB in the borough dropped from 119.8 per 100,000 to 79.5 per 100,000, which PHE says is part of an encouraging drop in the capital.

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