TB alert as outbreaks reported at seven schools

29th June 2007 at 01:00
TEACHERS ARE being advised to keep on the alert after a spate of TB outbreaks have affected staff and pupils in British schools.

With seven infections in schools reported so far this year, others have been warned that the biggest killer of the Victorian era is back.

Tuberculosis is not highly infectious and is easily treatable in the early stages but is potentially fatal if it remains undiagnosed.

A 13 year-old schoolgirl died in Southampton two years ago after doctors failed to identify the disease. Symptoms include persistent coughing, weight loss and night sweats. The disease ravaged crowded towns and cities in nineteenth century Britain. But as standards of living improved, deaths from TB fell. The BCG vaccination was introduced here in 1953.

For most of the 1990s, infections remained below 6,000 a year , but by 2005 the number had crept up to 7,500. Yet in the same year, the Government's vaccination committee decided to phase out the BCG vaccine in all but the highest-risk areas. In Wales, after a spate of outbreaks, teachers are campaigning for its return.

Full report, page 16

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