Northern Ireland

Belfast pupil is treated for TB

tuberculosis x-ray
Image caption TB is a serious but curable infectious disease which normally affects the lungs

A pupil at a Belfast primary school is being treated for tuberculosis.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has confirmed that a pupil at St Joseph's Primary School in Slate Street has the disease.

An information letter and TB fact sheet have been sent to pupils at the school as a precautionary measure.

School principal Margaret McQuillan said the child was making a good recovery.

She added that the school was co-operating with the PHA to ensure the safety of pupils.

Parents were invited to a meeting at the school on Tuesday morning.

"My prime concern is the health and well being of the whole school community," she said.

Dr Michael Devine, consultant in health protection, PHA, said: "I would like to reassure parents and those who attend the school that children with TB are rarely infectious to others and the risk to pupils and staff at the school is low.

"There is no indication that this pupil was infectious to other people."

TB is a serious but curable infectious disease which normally affects the lungs, but it can affect other parts of the body. It is normally treated with antibiotics.

Dr Devine said: "It is usually spread through the air when a patient coughs or sneezes. TB is a difficult infection to catch and usually requires prolonged close contact."

He said children were rarely the source of TB, and no restriction had been placed on the functioning of the school.

Dr Devine added that there were about 70 cases of TB per year in Northern Ireland, usually among the over 50s.