Almost 200 people were screened for Latent TB (tuberculosis) at Sandwell College as part of a campaign to protect the health of people living in Sandwell and West Birmingham.
190 people were screened at the event with 23 testing positive and now receiving treatment with a course of antibiotics.
NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been working in partnership with Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust to screen eligible people living in the Sandwell and West Birmingham area who may be carrying TB (tuberculosis) without them knowing it.
Latent TB has no symptoms and can remain dormant for years in someone’s lungs without them being aware that they have the bacteria. The bacteria remain inactive and non-infectious, until triggered. Triggering effects can include dramatic lifestyle changes or other illnesses that can weaken the immune system. Once active, TB becomes contagious and, if left untreated, can cause death.
At particular risk are people aged 16-35 from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Sub-Continent who were either born there, or have lived there for more than six months in the last five years. In total there are 70 at risk countries, including include Thailand, India and the Philippines, where people are at increased risk of having the TB bacteria ‘sleeping’ inside them, otherwise known as latent TB.
In order to try and identify those who might be at risk, and reassure those who are not, NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group has developed a survey which will help people discover whether they should consider being screened by their GP. The survey can be found here
Dr Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: “Sandwell and West Birmingham has a growing migrant population who may be at risk from active TB in the future. So, we are delighted that 190 people who were potentially at risk were able to benefit from a simple check for latent TB at Sandwell College. Such was the success of the event we are now looking at the possibility of holding further events. “Initiatives like this are really important to protect the health of people who live and work in Sandwell and West Birmingham. By picking up latent TB we can prevent people from developing active TB and prevent diseases spreading in the population.
“If a person has latent TB, then they have TB bacteria 'asleep' in their body. They are not ill at the moment, but the TB bacteria can 'wake up' and make them ill with TB in the future. The good news is that latent TB can be treated to help stop this happening with a course of antibiotics.
“Screening for latent TB is easy, and can be done at the patient’s local GP practice. We encourage all people within the age range of 16-35 who were born in or have lived in one of the 70 at risk countries for longer than six months in the last five years, to complete the survey and if necessary book an appointment with their GP.”
Natasha Ratnaraja, Consultant in Infection for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “In one day of screening we tested a total of 228 students for blood borne viruses (BBV), including 194 for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Of those tested for LTBI, 23 were positive. For those tested for BBV, there was a positivity rate of 10.96 per cent for hepatitis C.
“We feel that this has been a very successful screening programme and have been invited back to test more students. The success of this venture is down to the hard work and cooperation of all involved; the CCG, Sandwell Local Authority, microbiology and phlebotomy staff at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Sandwell College, NHSE and Birmingham City Council.”