Norfolk chicken factory worker diagnosed with tuberculosis

The Banham Poultry premises in Attleborough. The Banham Poultry premises in Attleborough.

Monday, March 24, 2014
7:53 PM

Public health chiefs have confirmed that a worker at a Norfolk chicken factory was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

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And staff at Banham Poultry, near Attleborough, who have had close prolonged contact with the worker, are being offered screening for the TB infection, as a precaution.

The unnamed factory worker, who is from Great Yarmouth, has received medical treatment and are not infectious, Public Health England said.

They went off work in December and have been receiving treatment since January.

Public Health England, Norfolk County Council, East Coast Community Healthcare, Norfolk Community Health and Care and TB health specialists have been working with the factory to help advise their staff and stop any further transmission of the illness.

As a precaution, screening for the infection will be offered to those who have had close prolonged contact with the confirmed case.

Health chiefs said that was a routine method used to identify the infection, which can then be treated with a course of antibiotics.

Dr Giri Shankar, consultant in Communicable Disease Control at Public Health England’s Anglia and Essex Centre, said: “Although an infectious disease, TB is not easily spread unless you have had close prolonged contact with an infected individual. Screening is the best way to check this and stop any further spread of the infection.”

Posters and leaflets with general TB advice have been displayed in the factory and staff have been written to.

Banham Poultry confirmed it has been working closely with Public Health England and following advice given. posters and leaflets have been displayed in the factory and staff have been written to.

Public Health England confirmed last week that 17 workers from two factories in the Chatteris area in Cambridgeshire have been diagnosed with TB since January 2012 “and are now receiving treatment and are no longer infectious”.

However, PHE could not confirm that a death among the workers is linked to TB.

A PHE spokesman said the cause of the worker’s death was still under investigation “and we are aware that person had other health issues.

“Until we have confirmation one way or other we are unable to comment”.

The spokesman said a public health team including TB specialists has been working with the affected factories “to identify individuals who have had prolonged close contact with the infected cases, as this is the main way that TB can spread.”

TB develops slowly in the body, and it usually takes several months for symptoms to appear. Symptoms include:

Fever and night sweats

Unexplained prolonged cough (more than three weeks)

Unexplained weight loss

Blood in your sputum (phlegm or spit) at any time

Extreme and abnormal tiredness

The TB germ is usually spread in the air from another person who has infectious TB of the lungs - such as through coughs and sneezes.

Close, lengthy and frequent contact with an actively infected person is necessary to transmit the infection.

Today was World TB Day - which aimed to raise awareness of the disease.

• Have you got a health story? Call health correspondent Adam Gretton on 01603 772419 or email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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