TB confirmed in the Thames Valley

Mums and dads are being warned to be aware of the symptoms of Tb after two cases were confirmed at a Thames Valley school

Heart's been getting advice after being told of a second student being treated for turberculosis in Reading after being diagnosed during routine screening following the first case in July.

The Health Protection Agency’s Thames Valley Health Protection Unit (HPU) can confirm that a second student at the John Madejski Academy in Reading has been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). This case was identified during screening in the school in September which took place after the first case was diagnosed with TB in July. Both students are being treated and doing well. 
Dr Muhammad Abid, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at the Thames Valley HPU, said: “The second case means we need to widen the screening as a further precaution and to ensure nobody has been missed. The risk to anyone in the household, including friends who may stay regularly, is obviously higher but that to the wider school community is very low.  A positive result on screening does not mean the person has the disease but it may mean they have become infected and may need treatment in order to prevent the disease from developing in later life.


Heart's found out more cases of TB were confirmed in the Thames Valley than anywhere else in our region last year. see the figures below:

Number of TB cases and incidence, 2009


Number of cases


Incidence per 100,000









Sussex & Surrey




Thames Valley




Total number of cases




What is TB and how can you catch it?

 - Tuberculosis, or TB, is a disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB usually affects the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body. Infection does not necessarily develop into active, clinically apparent TB disease.

- TB is completely treatable. It is usually transmitted when a person with infection in the lung has close and sustained contact with others (i.e. household members), as when they cough, sneeze etc. the infection can be spread. But only some people with TB in the lungs are infectious to other people. Such cases are called 'sputum smear positive' (or "open"). Even then, close and prolonged contact is needed to be at risk of being infected.

- Sputum smear positive cases stop being infectious after 2 weeks of effective treatment.

- TB is treated with a combination of antibiotics and treatment for active disease usually lasts six months. TB disease develops slowly in the body and it usually takes several months for symptoms to appear.

- People who may have been in contact with an infectious case of TB can be tested using a skin test called the Mantoux test which is the standard test for contact testing. A positive result could indicate presence of the infection but does not mean the person has active disease. Antibiotics will prevent the infection from developing into active disease later in life. A positive result will require further investigations, often including blood tests and a chest X-ray.

- Newer blood tests called Interferon-Gamma tests are also available which can be used as well as the skin test.

- Tests are unreliable if performed too early. As the infection develops very slowly, testing is usually performed about six weeks from the date of exposure to avoid 'false negative' results.

- Any of the following symptoms may suggest TB:

- Fever and night sweats

- Persistent cough

- Losing weight

- Blood in sputum.

More information can be found by clicking here