TB in Singapore: All kids at Sengkang East kindergarten tested for TB after staff tested positive

TB in Singapore: All kids at Sengkang East kindergarten tested for TB after staff tested positive

110 adults and kids who were exposed to the staff member with TB have been tested.

In a case of TB in Singapore, 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 late last month. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) was informed on November 27 that this particular staff member had active TB. The person was put on two weeks of medical leave and started treatment for the disease. 

Following this, Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s TB Control Unit visited the kindergarten on November 28 “to identify those who were in close contacted with the infected person,” says a Straits Times report. 

One hundred and ten adults and kids were identified in this exercise. Ninety one (91) of these individuals are through their first round of screening, with 19 waiting on test results/evaluation. 

An MOH spokesperson has confirmed that, “To date, none of the children and staff have been diagnosed with active TB.”

As part of the testing process, older kids went through a second test last Thursday (Dec 7). 
TB in Singapore

TB in Singapore: According to the MOH, more than 1,300 people were diagnosed with the disease this year.

TB in Singapore: Not the first time

Earlier this year, there was a similar TB scare at the PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots in Clementi.

Four staff members and 39 kids were diagnosed with latent TB and received treatment. 

Tuberculosis in children: Facts for parents

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.

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 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.”

If you have questions or concerns about TB, we encourage you to talk to your child’s paediatrician for more information, and to clear your doubts. 

Also read: Tuberculosis: Effects on young children and how to prevent it

Source: The Straits Times

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