SCREENING FOR TUBERCULOSIS has begun at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Co Cork for hundreds of children and adults today, following an outbreak.
Over 220 people will undergo emergency tests to detect the disease, after three children at the Ballintemple National School tested positive for TB in the past three weeks.
Although the disease is potentially fatal, the Health Service Executive has said that TB can be cured if antibiotic treatment is taken for at least six months.
Speaking on RTÉ radio, Public health consultant Dr Margaret O’Sullivan said that all children and the staff of the school would be screened over the next two weeks.
O’Sullivan outlined the screening process, saying that people would be given an survey to complete, followed by a Mantoux skin test, and – if necessary – a chest X-Ray.
She explained the symptoms of TB, saying that if people develop a protracted cough for longer than three weeks (perhaps containing blood), experience weakness, lethargy or night sweats to contact their GP.
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr Kevin Kelleher called for the national screening programme to be expanded, and Fine Gael’s Health Spokesman Dr James Reilly has called on Minister for Health Mary Harney to set-up an immediate review of TB services.
The Ballintemple National School will delay opening for classes until the results of all tests are confirmed.