Parents call for TB tests for schoolchildren

The National Parents' Association has called on the city of Beersheba to act immediately to ensure that all the city's schoolchildren are checked for tuberculosis after a case of the deadly illness was discovered at one Beersheba school recently, reports The association criticized a decision to stop testing children for the disease, and said that following the discovery of the illness at the Eshkol School all parents in Beersheba should have been sent letters warning them to have their children examined. According to the report, some 400 cases of tuberculosis are diagnosed in Israel every year, and three out of 10 people who come into close contact with an infected person will be infected themselves. Tuberculosis is a common and often deadly illness caused by bacteria that usually lodge in the lungs, although they can affect other organs too. The disease spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or spits. The parents' association said that in the wake of the case at the Eshkol school, children's lives were being endangered by the decision to stop testing for the disease. It urged the city to act immediately to reinstate the Mantoux skin test, one of the most common screening tests for tuberculosis, for all Beersheba's schoolchildren. But a municipal spokesman said the tests were stopped after no further cases of tuberculosis were found in the city, and the Health Ministry was dealing with the case at the Eshkol School. "There is no suspicion of the spread of the disease," the spokesman said.