Tuberculosis strikes Stockholm daycare centre

The deadly tuberculosis virus has struck a daycare centre in a Stockholm suburb, prompting checkups for more than 50 young children, employees and parents.

“This illness must be taken seriously. Children get sicker than adults and can die in the worst cases,” said TB-expert Sven Hoffner.

An employee was diagnosed last week with TB. Agneta Wanner, head of the Rainbow daycare in Bromma where the sick woman works, said: “At first I was unbelievably scared, then I called for help.”

Within 24 hours all employees were called in and a doctor told them all about the situation. Then, parents were informed.

“This is the first time I’ve seen an infection at a daycare,” said Ingela Berggren-Palme, a doctor of infectious diseases at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control in Stockholm.

One child is believed to have caught TB from the employee and is being treated at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital. Doctor Åke Örtqvist says it’s hard to say how the disease will progress.

“Doctors have begun treatment, but it can take six to eight weeks to get test results back,” he said.

TB usually goes to the lungs but it can invade the body’s organs and cause inflammation of the brain. When adults get TB, they usually cough up the bacteria. But children swallow it, so doctors have to test bacteria from the stomach to see if TB is there. Antibiotics, however, can help.

The daycare centre remains open while the children and teachers are examined.

“As long as no one else is coughing or sick, the illness won’t spread,” Palme assured reporters.

Daycare director Agneta Wanner added: “We have the situation under control. We don’t believe that the children or employees need to stay home at this point.”

Doctors at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control are now trying to trace the source of the infection. Tuberculosis is on the rise in Sweden with a 13% rise in cases since last year.

TB is spread by air but nine out of ten infections do not cause the full-blown illness.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen