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Screening move after TB outbreak
[Posted: Mon 23/08/2010 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Over 220 children and staff at a primary school in Cork city are to be screened for tuberculosis following an outbreak of the disease.
Three children attending the Ballintemple National School were diagnosed with TB and are now being treated.
The HSE is trying to find the source of the outbreak.
Fine Gael's Health Spokesman Dr James Reilly called on Health Minister Mary Harney to set up an immediate review of TB services, including the administration of the BCG vaccine for infants.
A previous TB outbreak among children broke out in Cork city in 2007, occurring in 21 children in a crèche where an infected adult had been working.
Following this, child health experts warned that the Government may have to pay compensation to children in Cork who developed TB in the 2007 outbreak as a result of the lack of routine BCG vaccination in the area.
The Faculty of Paediatrics said last year that the Department of Health may need to consider compensation for children who have been been infected with diseases preventable by immunisation, in areas of the country where routine immunisation was not offered by the HSE.
In a submission to the Vaccine Damage Steering Group, the Faculty said the starkest example of this was the 2007 outbreak of TB in south Cork city.
Until recently, Cork was the only county in the country where the BCG vaccine against TB was not administered routinely to infants.
After the major outbreak in Cork city in 2007, the HSE announced that routine BCG vaccination of infants would recommence.
However, a recruitment ban in the HSE led to delays in introducing routine BCG vaccination and there were waiting lists for the vaccine reported well into 2008.
The Faculty of Paediatrics report says children affected by the 2007 outbreak may have lifelong health issues relating to the HSE's BCG policy in Cork that is at variance with national and international practice.
Meanwhile the Irish Thoracic Society, which represents doctors working in respiratory medicine, call for a national programme to screen for and treat latent TB in high-risk groups.
It said this would be the most effective way of reducing the incidence of the disease in Ireland.
The Society added that healthcare professionals and the public should be educated to recognise the symptoms of TB.
Recently, an increase in the incidence of TB in Ireland has been reported. In 2007, 480 cases were reported.
Read more on TB here
See also our Child Vaccination Tracker here
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