Health Department: TB Trace Testing Underway

October 18, 2012

Following yesterday’s statement by the Health Department that it has identified two cases of active Tuberculosis [TB] on the island – one of which is a P3 student at Heron Bay Primary School – the Department confirmed they are currently performing testing to trace whether there has been transmission of TB to others in the school.

Group testing will be performed at the school on Friday for the class and its teacher.  This is a two stage test and the students and the teacher will be required to return to the school on Monday at 10am to have the test read. The screening test which is offered by the Department of Health is a skin test.

If there are any positive test results, the cases will be immediately referred to the Department of Health Clinic and the strategy for the second round of group testing will be rolled out, informed by the round one results.

The Department has also pointed out that both of the individuals who have been identified with active TB have been isolated, are being treated, and no longer pose a threat for further transmission.

The Department is meeting with parents of children who attend Heron Bay Primary School this evening to provide information on TB and TB testing. The meeting for P3 parents only is at 5:30pm and the general PTA meeting is scheduled for 6pm.

Concerned members of the public can phone the Department of Health Communicable Disease Clinic on 278-6442 for further information.

Bermuda is considered a low incidence area for TB and one to three cases are reported each year to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit. Tuberculosis is very common in many regions of the world, particularly in developing nations where poverty, over-crowding, poor nutrition and inadequate access to health care exist.

The full statement is below:

Following yesterday’s statement by the Department of Health that it has identified two cases of active Tuberculosis (TB) on the island – one of which is a P3 student at Heron Bay Primary School – the Department would today like to reiterate that it is currently performing testing to trace whether there has been transmission of TB to others in the school.

The Department has also pointed out that both of the individuals who have been identified with active TB have been isolated, are being treated, and no longer pose a threat for further transmission.

Potential exposure to TB may have occurred if a person was in prolonged close contact with the TB-infected student. In this case this means that if a person spent an hour or more in the same closed room (such as a confined classroom) with the TB sufferer then the Department will be testing that person.

This infection can spread from person to person through the air. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or otherwise expels infected saliva droplets into the air, others can inhale these infected droplets and become likewise infected. Close contact with an infected individual or inhaling aerosolized droplets in the air is required for infection to occur.

TB is NOT easily transmitted via casual contact.

Heron Bay School is a ‘single stream school’ and the dynamics of the school mean that classes and teachers do not mix regularly.

Therefore the Department of Health is focusing their group testing efforts by starting with P3, where there is the highest risk of exposure to others.

Group testing will be performed at the school on Friday for the class and its teacher. This is a two stage test and the students and the teacher will be required to return to the school on Monday at 10am to have the test read. The screening test which is offered by the Department of Health is a simple skin test.

If there are any positive test results, the cases will be immediately referred to the Department of Health Clinic and the strategy for the second round of group testing will be rolled out, informed by the round one results.

The Department of Health is meeting with parents of children who attend Heron Bay Primary School this evening to provide information on TB and TB testing. The meeting for P3 parents only is at 5:30pm and the general PTA meeting is scheduled for 6pm.

Concerned members of the public can also phone the Department of Health Communicable Disease Clinic on 278-6442 for further information.

Area D of the Hamilton Health Centre (the Communicable Disease Clinic) will offer TB testing for those clients who may think they have been exposed between 8:30am and 10am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with clients returning on day three (i.e. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively) to have the test read.

The test is only valid if the person attends the clinic on two occasions as explained above. Because of the two step nature of the test it is only offered on the first three days of the week. There will be no charge to the individual for testing or treatment of TB.

The Department of Health would like to be clear that the Emergency Department of KEHM is not the correct place to go if you think you require testing due to potential exposure. No individual will be denied testing if requested.

Not all individuals who become infected with TB become ill. Tuberculosis infection is often without symptoms, and is called “latent TB”. When an individual becomes ill, we call it “Active TB”. In the classic case of active respiratory TB the individual experiences fever, night sweats, weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Affected individuals are treated with an anti-tuberculosis medication, or a combination of medications, for several months. Close medical monitoring is required to assure adequate treatment. Adequately treated individuals are no longer infectious to others after a few weeks of treatment, and may return to work or school. Typically, with treatment, individuals recover fully from the disease.

Bermuda is considered a low incidence area for TB and one to three cases are reported each year to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit. This situation is somewhat unusual due to the scope of the contact tracing which must be performed and the fact that a school is involved.

Tuberculosis is very common in many regions of the world, particularly in developing nations where poverty, over-crowding, poor nutrition and inadequate access to health care exist. TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis which typically infects the lungs but can affect other areas of the body.

Further Info at the following website: www.cdc.gov

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Comments (5)

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  1. tricks are for kids.. says:

    …..Heron Bay School is a ‘single stream school’ and the dynamics of the school mean that classes and teachers do not mix regularly”….THEY DO HOWEVER SHARE A COMMON LUNCH HOUR….so the RISK is there…….

    • OOHHH LOORRDD!!! says:

      Um… I am guessing that students also have recess together and use the same bathrooms and water fountains? There are a lot of communal areas in a school.

      • Tommy Chong says:

        These students also go to the theatre, to town, to saturday morning football practice, church & the list could keep going. Read my post below & you’ll soon realize how the Bermuda Health Department is putting a bandaid on a bullet wound just to keep everyone calm. How many times do locals visit America a year. 15 million is in all reality unavoidable. The only sure fire way is detection & treatment.

  2. Tommy Chong says:

    There should be testing in schools island wide not just Heron Bay. Many don’t realize TB can stay in your system for years without any symptoms & only till the bacteria covers the lungs completely will there be any signs. There are close to 15 million people in the United States have latent tuberculosis. It can & should be treated early on especially in children before the infection gets to disease stage. The risk can be 3 times higher of contracting it with diabetes which is close to epidemic proportions on island or poor nutrition which has become an issue with Bermuda’s population due to the economic downturn.

    Wake Up Bermuda Before Its Too Late! TB can infect anyone rich, poor, of any skin complexion or nationality. Many of us could have it right now & not even know we do. It would be disastrous in such a confined place as Bermuda if it becomes an outbreak do to the cutback of proper foods that feed the blood cells needed to combat the bacteria just because our population is cutting back on groceries due to the expense. Many forward thinking governments in the world do not tax health necessity foods imported or even upon purchase so they can maintain the health of their population. No tax on importation of books in Bermuda. WHATS THAT! Man does not survive on books alone.

  3. Dee (Original) says:

    Tommy you are absolutely right. The high incidence of HIV in Bermuda doesn’t help either. TB occurs in about 30% of HIV people and there are a lot of people walking around Bermuda infected. I hope this serves as a big wake up call. And to all the people who are going to deny what I just said, take your head out of the sand!!!