All kids at Agape Little Uni at Sengkang East tested for TB after staff diagnosed with disease

A nurse from the TB Control Unit from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) went to Agape Little Uni at Sengkang East to test the children after their parents were informed.
A nurse from the TB Control Unit from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) went to Agape Little Uni at Sengkang East to test the children after their parents were informed. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - All children at the Agape Little Uni, a child care centre and kindergarten at Sengkang East, have been tested for tuberculosis after a member of the staff was diagnosed with the disease at the end of last month.

The children were aged between two and six years old.

A Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman said it was informed on Nov 27 that a member of the Agape staff had adtive TB. The person had been given two weeks of medical leave and begun treatment.

The TB Control Unit from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) went to the kindergarten on Nov 28 to identify those who were in close contacted with the infected person.

The MOH said 110 adults and children were identified. By Friday (Dec 8), 91 have completed the first round of screening and 19 are pending evaluation or test results.

She added: "To date, none of the children and staff have been diagnosed with active TB."

The parents of the younger children have been informed of the test results. The older children had to undergo a second test on Thursday as part of the screening process.

There was a similar situation at the PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots in Clementi in March this year. There, 39 children and four members of the staff were found to have latent TB during the screening and were put on treatment.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria that spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. But it usually takes prolonged exposure with the infected person for it to spread.

While TB is usually associated with the lungs, it can also spread through the blood to other parts of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain.

Not everyone infected gets the disease and in many cases, it remains latent. Those with latent TB are not infectious. But if left untreated, 5 to 10 per cent of those with latent TB could develop the illness in their lifetime.

The ministry spokesman said: "Among older Singaporeans, up to 30 per cent may have latent TB infection. In the vast majority of cases, the TB bacteria remains inactive in their body throughout their lives, and they do not spread TB to others."

Treatment for TB involves taking drugs for up to nine months. However, should the TB be the resistant variety, a second drug needs to be taken, for a longer period.

In Singapore, doctors are obliged to inform the Ministry of Health within three days of diagnosing a patient with TB.

More than 1,300 people have been diagnosed with the disease here this year.