Three diagnosed with tuberculosis after death of student at Welsh university

A multi-agency outbreak control team has been working with Trinity St David to establish contacts of the three individuals Credit: MEDIA WALES

Three people have been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) after they came into close contact with a student who died with the disease in a Welsh town.

Public Health Wales, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Ceredigion Council are investigating cases of what they call “active TB" in individuals who were in contact with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David student, who died in October 2021.

The three people diagnosed with the disease are all “closely linked” to the student, who was a resident at the Lampeter campus of the university in Ceredigion, and are now receiving appropriate treatment.

A multi-agency outbreak control team has been working with Trinity St David to establish the contacts of the three individuals, and to arrange TB screening.

Public Health Wales insisted that the risk to students and staff at the university and to the community at large was very low.

What is tuberculosis?

  • TB is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It mainly affects the lungs, but it can affect any part of the body, including the tummy (abdomen), glands, bones and nervous system.

  • TB is a potentially serious condition, but it can be cured if it’s treated with the right antibiotics.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include:

  • A persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks and usually brings up phlegm, which may be bloody

  • Weight loss

  • Night sweats

  • High temperature (fever)

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Swellings in the neck

Dr Brendan Mason, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales, said: “Following established outbreak control procedures, we have identified individuals who have had close contact with the deceased person. These close contacts have been contacted and screened for TB, three of whom have been found to have active TB.

“Our investigations have shown that the three individuals with active TB are all closely linked to the person who sadly died in October 2021. TB is difficult to transmit. It requires close and prolonged contact with an infectious individual for a person to become infected.

"Therefore, the university community and local residents can be reassured that the risk to the general public is extremely low. We have identified all the close contacts of the deceased person and they are receiving the necessary TB screening and follow up.

"Work is continuing to identify the close contacts of the three cases of active TB, all of whom will be invited for TB screening by Hywel Dda University Health Board. However, we encourage everyone to be aware of the symptoms of TB.

"If you have symptoms, we advise that you speak to your GP, who can provide you with the appropriate advice and refer you for TB screening if required.”

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