Singapore student diagnosed with active TB, MOH screening students, teachers

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A TB case in Singapore school has been reported. MOH is currently screening students and teachers at the school, and the results are pending.

A secondary school student in Singapore has been diagnosed with active TB (Tuberculosis).

The case was reported at Bukit View Secondary School on April 26, 2018. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is currently screening students and teachers at the school, and the results are pending.

TB case in Singapore school reported

An MOH spokesman told The Straits Times, "The patient was started on treatment and placed on medical leave after the clinical-diagnosis of TB was made. Contact screening has been started, and results are currently pending."

The patient is no longer contagious.

Only those who had been in close and prolonged contact with the infectious individual need to be screened by the Tuberculosis Control Unit (TBCU).

The school is monitoring the situation closely with TBCU. Vice-principal Shirley Lee told The Straits Times, "The health and safety of our students and staff are our utmost concern. We will also extend the necessary support to ensure the well-being of the school community."

In March 2017, a staff member at PCF Sparkletots pre-school, Clementi, was diagnosed with active tuberculosis. Four staff members and 39 kids were diagnosed with latent TB and received treatment. 

Again, in November 2017, all kids (aged 2-6 years old) at Agape Little Uni in Sengkang East were tested for tuberculosis (TB) after a staff member contracted the disease.

Tuberculosis in children

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease which primarily affects the lungs, and is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The disease can also spread through the blood to other parts of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain.

TB is spread when a person with active TB coughs or sneezes, and expels the germs into the air. It usually requires prolonged and close contact with someone with active TB, to get infected with TB. TB does not spread through items or surfaces touched by a patient.

There are two stages of this condition: 

  • Latent TB: This is the initial stage or the first infection with the tuberculosis bacteria. Latent TB usually shows no signs or symptoms, and is not contagious.
  • Active TB: This stage is characterised by fever, profuse sweating at night, and chronic persistent cough (sometimes with blood). 

tuberculosis 1 Singapore student diagnosed with active TB, MOH screening students, teachers

Tuberculosis is known to aggravate in small children, especially in those less than five years of age, due to their weak immune systems.

theAsianparent asked Dr Chan Si Min, Head and Consultant, Division of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, National University Hospital, some questions related to tuberculosis in children.

Here are her responses:

1. How common is TB among children in Singapore?

“Not common. In 2013, only 7 children under the age of 15 were notified to have TB disease. That is 0.5% of the total number of TB cases in Singapore that year.”

2. Can latent TB be detected in children?

“Children with latent TB have no symptoms and are well. It can be diagnosed with tests (Mantoux test or blood test, depending on age).”

3. What are the chances that latent TB can get converted into active TB?

“Overall lifetime risk for an adult is about 10%- this is higher for young children though, especially those less than 2 years old.”

4. What are the treatment options for TB in children, in Singapore?

“Usually, a combination of 3-4 antibiotics, specifically for TB, is used to treat active TB disease.”

(Source: The Straits Times)