I'll make kids wear masks, says mum at TB affected block
Residents to go for health screening after six TB cases reported in AMK block
The last time she made her four children wear face masks was during the haze last September.
But from today, 34-year-old housewife Siti Hasnah will make sure all of them don their masks, even at home.
Madam Siti, whose children are all under 10 years old, told The New Paper yesterday: "I am not going to take any chances with their health. Tuberculosis is no laughing matter."
The Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday announced that six individuals from her block - Block 203, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 - have been detected with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB).
These six people, who represent an "unusual cluster", come from four unrelated units at the block.
All six cases are no longer contagious.
The first case was diagnosed in February 2012, and the latest one last month.
None of the cases involved children.
As a precautionary measure, on-site tuberculosis (TB) screenings will be offered at the block's void deck from today till Sunday, between 9am and 9pm.
Former residents who lived in the block from July 2011, as well as those who are unable to go for the screenings on-site, may be screened at any Sata CommHealth clinic until June 30.
MOH officials went door-to-door yesterday evening to distribute information sheets and inform residents about the screenings.
When TNP visited the block at around 7.45pm, MOH officials were setting up the screening area at the void deck.
TNP understands that the block, which has 11 storeys and one lift landing with two lifts, has 14 two-room units on each floor.
Although the screening area will be open till June 19, most of the residents that TNP spoke to said they will make time today to go for the screenings.
Said Madam Siti: "We're going to go tomorrow at 8pm, right after breaking our fast. It's better to be safe than sorry."
Madam Saraspathy Khataperman, a 69-year-old cleaner who lives alone, said she would go for the screening this morning.
"Before I go to work, I'll make sure to get tested. I'm not so scared but I think it is (about) being responsible," she said.
Residents also told TNP they were surprised by the news, with many of them saying that they would be extra vigilant about their health in the coming days.
NO NEED TO PANIC
But some said there was no reason to panic.
Mr Fazli Sahat, a 34-year-old driving assistant and father of two, said: "Of course it's a surprise. This area is always quiet and nice, so to have this suddenly happen is a bit shocking.
"It sounds like it's under control, but I'll be monitoring my family's health."
But Madam Siti is not taking any chances.
She said: "Officials don't come knocking on doors when other people get sick. For them to come here, it must be quite serious.
"I've seen on television how dangerous TB can be, especially for children. I hope that this will all go away soon."
Of course it's a surprise. This area is always quiet and nice, so to have this suddenly happen is a bit shocking. It sounds like it's under control, but I'll be monitoring my family's health.
- Mr Fazli Sahat, a 34-year-old driving assistant and father of two
What is TB, how it spreads, how it is treated
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by the bacteria mycobacterium tuberculosis that mostly affects the lungs.
When a person with active lung TB coughs, sneezes or spits, he propels the TB germs into the air.
A person needs to inhale the germs for a prolonged period to become infected.
Hence, people who get infected are typically family members, flatmates, colleagues and friends.
Infected persons enter a state known as latent TB infection, which has no symptoms and is not contagious.
Only 5 per cent of them will develop active TB within the first two years and another 10 per cent within their lifetime.
Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
Active TB is treated with a standard six- to nine-month course of antibiotics. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are taken properly.
But there are strains of TB bacteria that are multidrug-resistant (MDR). These require 20 to 24 months of treatment, with the first month being in the hospital.
Although treating latent TB infection with drugs can reduce the risk of it becoming active by 90 per cent, there is no known treatment to reduce the risk of developing active TB if the person has latent MDR TB.
They are usually monitored closely for two years - the period they are likely to develop active MDR TB.
- Judith Tan