11 February 2015

NSW Health is contacting staff and parents of children who have attended a local child care centre after confirmation that a person recently diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) has been at the centre while infectious.

The person with TB is currently receiving treatment and there is no ongoing risk to children and staff at the child care centre.

It is important to note that the risk of tuberculosis infection having spread to staff and children is low and treatments for TB are highly effective. Australia has a long history of successfully containing and treating tuberculosis.

Unlike other bacterial infections, TB is not readily spread from child to child and any spread is usually only after prolonged exposure.

However, precautionary measures are being taken and screening for TB will commence at the centre on Wednesday, February 11, for all staff and children who had attended the centre between December, 2014 and January, 2015.

There are up to 15 staff and 92 children from 78 families who have attended the childcare centre during that period.

A Tuberculin Skin Test, which is a small injection into the forearm similar to an allergy skin test, will be used to screen for possible exposure.

Infants (less than 12 months old) and all children with an immunosuppressive condition will be assessed by a specialist TB physician for preventive antibiotic therapy.

Dr Sheppeard, Director, Communicable Diseases Branch, NSW Health, said should any children or staff have a positive skin test, a chest x-ray examination and specialist medical review will be arranged.

Information sessions have been organised for parents for Wednesday evening and specialist TB nurses and public health staff are speaking directly with parents to give them full information about testing and treatment options, answer questions and arrange testing and assessment.

“TB usually affects the lungs. Typically, it is spread through the air by coughing from people who have active tuberculosis. Fortunately, treatment for tuberculosis is highly effective,” said Dr Sheppeard.

“Tuberculosis is a common disease worldwide. In Australia, about 1,200 cases are diagnosed each year making it a relatively uncommon condition here,” said Dr Sheppeard.

Information is also available on the NSW Health website at Tuberculosis fact sheet and Tuberculosis.