Devon school with TB infected pupils now “under control”

An investigation into a latent tuberculosis (TB) infection at a school in Devon is coming to an end, Public Health England has announced.

The national body has confirmed that almost 200 young people at Teign School in Newton Abbot tested positive during screening carried out in the summer term. The latency of the infection within most patients was such that it could not be spread to others.

But it did say that “fewer than 10 people” connected to the school had been treated for active TB. These patients had been diagnosed early and there had been “no further infectious cases” at the school.

The investigation revealed that the “majority of transmission” of the infection happened during the 2013/14 academic year.

Although the number of pupils testing positive to the blood test was “unusual”, the investigation found that the pattern of spread was “consistent with an infectious person” present in the school during that year.

The organisation has confirmed that the results show the situation is “under control” and that the risk of further infection is “now no greater” than in the general public.

Dr Sarah Harrison, Public Health England South West’s deputy director of health protection, says “only a small number of people are still to be tested and continue to be followed up.

“The year groups primarily affected were those of two students with infectious TB. We did not find evidence of significant transmission affecting the sixth form during 2013/14 or year 7 in 2014/15.

“Of those screened as school contacts, fewer than 10 people are being treated for active TB. These were all diagnosed in the early stages of disease. There have been no further infectious cases at the school.”

Headteacher Mark Woodlock says the school is “greatly relieved” that testing is coming to an end and that the need for more tests is “unlikely”.

“It has been a very difficult time for many individuals – students, teachers and their families.

“They have had to cope with the demands of a positive test, whilst continuing to try live as normal a life as possible.

“For many, that involved taking examinations and it is testament to their strength that their results have been so strong.”

According to official guidance, schools are advised to consult their nearest Public Health England centre for advice on how long pupils should be kept away from school if infected.

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