TB outbreak in Taipei school contained

TB OR NOT TB::The city health department’s investigation said bad ventilation at Shih Hsin University dormitories could be why the standard screening process failed

Staff Writer, with CNA

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 - Page 2

A cluster outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) at a university in Taipei has been controlled, a senior Department of Health (DOH) official said yesterday.

Eight confirmed cases have been reported at Shih Hsin University since a student there was diagnosed with TB in September last year, the department said.

The September case has been confirmed as the origin of the outbreak, DOH Deputy Director-General Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) said, adding that all eight patients had been given medical treatment.

The department “believes the outbreak has been controlled,” Shih said.

Taipei City Government’s Department of Health has announced that it will launch a blanket health check targeting all 300-plus Shih Hsin students and teachers tomorrow and on Tuesday.

Shih said when the first infections were reported in September last year, the city carried out standard TB screening tests, which included X-rays and bacterial testing of family members or friends living with the patient.

Health checks were also carried out for people who had contact with the patient for at least eight hours a day during the contagious period, and those who had had contact with the patient for an accumulated 40 hours or more within three months before the patient started showing symptoms.

However, despite all the screenings and tests, seven Shih Hsin students fell sick and were confirmed to have been infected with TB since June, the official said.

This means the screening process is incomplete, he said, adding that among the confirmed patients, some had not undergone standard quarantine checks because they were not in the high-risk category.

Citing the city health department’s investigation results, Shih said some dormitories at Shih Hsin had bad ventilation, which could be a reason why the standard screening process failed.

TB is one of the most common notifiable diseases in the country, with more than 13,000 cases recorded last year.

As of Oct. 21, 10,271 people had been confirmed to be infected with TB this year, DOH statistics show.