Parents of children in Carmarthenshire are being urged to come forward to have them tested following an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB).
Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board have made the call after hundreds of people were screened in the Llwynhendy area of Llanelli earlier this year.
It followed an outbreak in the area which saw 29 confirmed cases of TB, including the that of local woman Margaret Pegler, who died from the infection, aged 64, in September, 2018.
Following previous screenings – during which only adults were invited to take part – it was confirmed that 204 people were carrying a latent form of TB, a non-infectious strand that cannot be passed to other people and that does not require urgent treatment.
Now, children and youngsters who may have been exposed to cases of TB are also being covered by the screening programme, with parents or carers being encouraged to contact Public Health Wales.
The exercise is being carried out to try to bring under control the ongoing outbreak which Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda UHB have been monitoring.
Both bodies will then determine if more action is needed to bring the outbreak under control.
The latest screening call-out is also aimed at adults who have so far not been screened but who believe they may have been in the same room as someone with active TB.
This includes anyone who was a customer or an employee at the Joiners Arms in Llwynhendy – a pub linked to the outbreak – between 2005 and 2018.
Back in June, when more than 1,400 people were tested, a lot more claimed they missed out on the screening programme because so many people turned up from outside the Llwynhendy area.
Dr Brendan Mason, consultant in communicable disease control at Public Health Wales, said: “While we have not previously issued an explicit call for children to attend for screening, we have screened approximately 200 children as part of the exercise to date.
“A small but significant number of cases of latent TB infection have been identified in these children, and so we want to make sure we screen other children in the area who may also be affected.”
Screening appointments will be sent out and checks for youngsters will take place before Christmas and continue into early 2020.
More about TB:
Ros Jervis, director of public health at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “Managing this outbreak is a priority for the health board and we would like to encourage those, especially parents or carers of children, who think they meet the criteria for screening, to make contact.
“We understand that this time of year can be extremely busy for many people but please do not let that put you off making enquiries through the dedicated contact line.
“Our services are working hard to ensure that the screening and after care for children is as quick and easy as it can be.”
TB is rare in Wales and health experts are only notified of 100 cases each year.
The nation continues to have the lowest rate of tuberculosis per 100,000 population compared to other regions of Britain.
- Anyone who thinks their children may be eligible for screening is asked to call the dedicated Public Health Wales contact line on 02920 827 627 before Friday, December 13. The line will be available on weekdays from today (Tuesday, December 3) until Friday, December 13, between 10am to 4pm.