Students in Birmingham offered screening for ‘sleeping’ tuberculosis

At-risk groups offered chance of testing for potentially fatal illness.

The local NHS is working with Birmingham University this month to offer students the chance to find out if they have ‘sleeping’ tuberculosis , which could lead to developing the potentially fatal active TB.

On 12 February, students will be targeted as part of a screening day at the university organised by NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group.

Those aged 16-35 years old, who were born in one of seventy at-risk countries including Thailand, India and the Philippines (or have spent more than six months in one of these countries) and have entered the UK within the last five years, could have TB sleeping inside them. This is known as latent or ‘sleeping’ TB.

Dr Raj Ramachandram, NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG’s Clinical Lead for Respiratory, said: “Latent TB has no symptoms and can remain dormant for years in the person’s lungs without them knowing that they have the bacteria.

“This can remain inactive and non-infectious until triggered, when it becomes active TB. This is a debilitating condition which is contagious and needs treatment with very strong medication. If left untreated, active TB can be fatal.

“The good news is treating latent TB is easier and can prevent carriers of the bacteria from developing active TB; and by taking our latent TB screening programme to the university, we can help students who might be carrying the inactive bacteria to be identified with a simple blood test and ensure they can be treated as quickly as possible.”

The screening will be carried out by trained nurses at Birmingham University’s Medical School on 12th February between 10am-3pm. All students who fit the screening criteria and are registered with the NHS can take part.

Latent TB testing, for those who fit the screening criteria, is also available through Birmingham and Solihull GP practices. Further information on latent TB and screening is available here