Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs. It is spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.
Causes of tuberculosis
- Only TB of the lungs or throat can be infectious. You would need to spend many hours close to a person with infectious TB to breathe in enough bacteria to be at risk.
- TB can affect any part of the body including kidneys, brain or bones. This is called Non-Pulmonary Tuberculosis and is not infectious.
- Most people's immune systems are strong enough to kill off TB bacteria.
- Those most at risk of contracting TB are those that live or who are staying for a period in a household with someone with the infectious form of TB.
Symptoms of tuberculosis
- A low temperature lasting weeks rather than days
- A cough which persists for three weeks
- Loss of appetite and night sweats
- 50% of children and young people will have no symptoms
Treatments for tuberculosis
- Treatment consists of a long course of antibiotics lasting at least six months.
- Finishing treatment is the only way to cure tuberculosis completely.
- TB can be fatal.
- Students seriously ill with TB may need to spend some time in hospital until the medication has started to work.
- They may have been feeling ill for some time, even to the point of missing school.
- Liaise promptly with the hospital school staff to ensure continuity of education.
- Medication for tuberculosis consists of a long course of antibiotics which takes at least sixth months.
- Some students may need to visit the local hospital for support in taking their medication.
- There is evidence that students can be teased or even bullied if people know they have TB.
- Be vigilant and act quickly to show this behaviour will not be tolerated.