Children being ‘ostracised’ as TB source still not found

THE headmaster of a Cork primary school where 25 children have contracted tuberculosis said there is concern in the wider community that the source of infection has not yet been found.

Speaking yesterday at the re-opening of Scoil Iósaf Naofa, Crab Lane, a week behind schedule, principal Denis O’Sullivan said it appeared the source was not within the school environs.

This follows two weeks of screening involving more than 220 children and staff who attend the school in Ballintemple in the suburbs of Cork city. No adult case has been identified.

Mr O’Sullivan dismissed claims that children infected with TB were being ostracised, saying: “I do not believe that to be the case at all.”

However, Helen Ruane, from Victoria Road, Blackrock, whose two children Daniel and Beth attend the school, said she knew of some- one who had been ostracised.

“Children are being ostracised, being asked not to attend christenings and birthdays and things, and that’s just not fair.

“People are misinformed. But my attitude is, before I would walk up to a parent and say ‘please don’t bring your child to my child’s birthday party’, I’d get on Google, I’d research it before I would hurt a person like that,” Ms Ruane said.

The mother-of-two said she was concerned the source of infection had not yet been found because of the possibility that it could lead to another outbreak.

Another parent, Mary Moloney, who lectures in Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), said she was concerned infection could spread to second and third-level institutions.

She said, as far as she was aware, screening of siblings of children diagnosed with TB had not yet been completed and neither had screening of their extended families.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) last night declined to comment on this claim.

The HSE also declined to confirm if pupils attending the school would be prioritised for BCG vaccination which protects against TB.

Last week, chair of the outbreak control team, public health consultant Dr Margaret O’Sullivan, said they had requested that this be done.

Screening for the disease, which began on Monday, August 23, continues at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork city.

* A HSE information line for those with queries in relation to the outbreak is available on 1800 742800 from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.


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