Tuberculosis scare at Sydney childcare centre leads to testing

Children and staff at a Sydney childcare centre will undergo tests for tuberculosis after someone who had been at the centre “on a daily basis” tested positive to the disease.

New South Wales Health said 92 children and 15 workers who attended the Only About Children care centre in Surry Hills in December and January were at risk, and all families and employees had been notified.

But it said there was no ongoing risk to people at the centre, or the wider community.

It said the infected person is receiving treatment but would not confirm whether that person was a worker at the centre.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard from NSW Health said TB usually affected the lungs and was usually spread after prolonged exposure, mostly through coughing.

“The infectious person was in the childcare centre during this period on a daily basis, so that is what is considered part of close contact: being in the same room as other people when you have infectious tuberculosis,” she said.

“Tuberculosis is a slow-moving condition. It’s quite different to other bacterial or viral infections that progress within days or weeks.

“It’s not unusual that it takes the doctor a while to determine the diagnosis.”

Dr Sheppeard said there were about 1,200 cases of TB in Australia each year, and treatment for the disease was highly effective.

The tests will be in the form of small injections to the arm, similar to allergy skin tests, with the first round of results expected on Friday.

Further tests will be carried out next week, with a second round of testing to be carried out in April to confirm the earlier results.

Dr Sheppeard said should anyone test positive, a chest X-ray and specialist medical review would be arranged.