BBC Home > BBC News > England

Birmingham schoolgirl, 15, dies from tuberculosis

11 January 11 20:31
Golden Hillock School, Sparkbrook

A 15-year-old girl from Birmingham has died from tuberculosis (TB), the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said.

Golden Hillock School in Sparkhill confirmed that one of its pupils, Alina Sarag, had been diagnosed with the infection and died last week.

TB is a bacterial infection which primarily affects the lungs.

It has since emerged Alina had begun treatment for TB and had been seen at Birmingham Chest Clinic in October 2009. An inquiry is under way.

It is understood she went to Pakistan before treatment had been completed, but came back to Birmingham afterwards.

The BBC has learnt that after her return from Pakistan she had poor school attendance due to sickness.

Low risk

A health official had a discussion with her mother in October, when the mother told the official Alina had been diagnosed with TB.

Her last attendance at school was in October.

Dr Jacky Chambers, of the Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust, said: "We are taking this death extremely seriously and we are going to go over all the facts and all the contact that this child has had in terms of the health care she has had in the months preceding her death."

She did not rule out an independent inquiry.

"Once we are clear in terms of the history of the events that led to this death we may move to a more independent inquiry," she said.

Anyone that had close, prolonged contact with Alina is being offered precautionary TB screening. However the HPA said the infection risk was low.

"Parents and pupils should rest assured that although TB is a rare disease in this country, we have good processes in place for when cases do arise," an HPA spokesman said.

"Effective treatment and testing is key because while most people cease to be infectious after two weeks, the treatment for TB takes six months and it is important that the full treatment is completed."

The HPA said there were more than 9,000 diagnosed cases of TB in England in 2009.

The figure represents a 30-year high with 1,018 of the diagnosed cases occurring in the West Midlands.

Share this

Related BBC sites