Tuberculosis screening at Teign School after three cases

tuberculosis x-ray
Image caption TB is a serious but curable infectious disease which normally affects the lungs

A pupil and two former pupils from a secondary school in Devon have been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB).

Public Health England (PHE) said the three, who had attended Teign School in Kingsteignton, were receiving treatment and "recovering well."

This follows another case at Westlands School earlier this month.

TB is a bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs. It is passed on through coughs and sneezes among people who have been in close contact.

PHE is offering TB screening to pupils and staff who shared lessons with the infected pupil.

It said it could not reveal the ages of those diagnosed or any connection between them, because of patient confidentiality.

'Difficult to catch'

Dr Sarah Harrison - deputy director at PHE in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset - said the people most at risk were family members.

"First and foremost, it is important to stress that TB is difficult to catch. The people who are most at risk are those living in the same household," she said.

"It is important to remember that TB is normally a curable infection which can be treated effectively with antibiotics, particularly if found early."

Tuberculosis over the years

  • One person in every four was killed by TB in Europe and America in 1851
  • In England and Wales in 1987, there were 5,745 cases - the lowest level since records began
  • This low followed a downward trend since the beginning of the century
  • In 2011 TB cases reached a new high in the UK with 8,963 people diagnosed
  • Rates of TB in the UK are now stabilising, with about 8,000 cases reported annually.

Source: TB Alert - a national tuberculosis awareness charity.

Mark Woodlock, head of Teign School, said he was working with PHE to identify and screen pupils and staff.

He said: "It is never pleasant to share news that a member of our community is unwell and I wish our student a speedy recovery."

NHS England said that in 2013, there were 7,290 cases of TB reported across England - about 13.5 cases per 100,000 of the population.

The UK has the second highest rate of TB among western European countries and rates are nearly five times higher than in the US.

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