Three people diagnosed with tuberculosis in UK after student dies at Welsh University

Three people have been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in the UK after a student died of the disease at a Welsh university last year. 

A multi-agency task force has been created to investigate the cases of what they call "active TB" in individuals who are all "closely linked" to the University of Wales Trinity St David student, who died in October 2021.

Public Health Wales - which is part of the task force - said the risk to students and staff at the university and the public is "extremely low". 

The task force will work with the university to identify contacts of the three individuals and arrange TB screening. 

"Following established outbreak control procedures, we have identified individuals who have had close contact with the deceased person. These close contacts have been contacted and screened for TB, three of whom have been found to have active TB," said Brendan Mason, a consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales.

"TB is difficult to transmit. It requires close and prolonged contact with an infectious individual for a person to become infected.

"Therefore, the university community and local residents can be reassured that the risk to the general public is extremely low," Dr Mason said.

The National Health Service (NHS) said TB is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. TB mainly affects the lungs but it can affect any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and nervous system, the NHS said. 

"TB is a potentially serious condition but it can be cured if it's treated with the right antibiotics."

Symptoms of TB include weight loss, night sweats, high temperature, loss of appetite, swellings in the neck and a persistent cough that lasts more than 3 weeks and usually brings up phlegm, which may be bloody. 

The positive diagnosis of the three students comes as the UK declares a "national incident" after poliovirus was detected in sewage samples in the British capital - the first sign since the 1980s that the virus could be spreading in the country.