5 children found to have latent TB
More than 130 screened at NUH
Five of the children screened at the National University Hospital (NUH) after one of its paediatric nurses was found to have pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) have tested positive for a latent infection of the disease.
"Treatment has been offered to these patients as a precautionary measure," an NUH spokesman said late last night.
The hospital said it had contacted more than 160 patients, and more than 130 of them had been brought in by their parents for screening.
"Based on current available results, none of the patients has active TB disease," the NUH update said.
The nurse's condition was discovered last month and the hospital has said that 178 children were being recalled for screening, 131 of them under the age of two.
The Straits Times had reported on Dec 11 that with more than 100 of these patients screened, one case of latent TB infection had been detected.
The four-month-old boy was in Ward 47 where the nurse worked, from Aug 23 to Sept 5. Although he has the bacteria in his system, he does not have the active disease, the report had said.
No further details of the other cases found were released yesterday.
"Individuals with latent TB infection do not have symptoms and are not infectious," the NUH update said. "They cannot spread TB to other people."
It also said that children are less likely to spread TB to others because the form of TB most commonly seen in them is usually less infectious than the forms seen in adults.
"Latent TB infection can be effectively treated to prevent progression to active TB," it said.
Current treatment options reduce the risk of developing active TB by more than 90 per cent, it added.
But it warned that any treatment given will not protect one from acquiring a new infection in the future as TB occurs in the general community.