High school girl dies of tuberculosis, others infected

Last Monday, a 14-year-old student from the Herzele Sint-Paulus high school died of the consequences of tuberculosis, an infectious lung disease. The school confirmed the sad news on their website yesterday. The Flemish Agency for Care and Health is now testing other students. One has been found infected, and there are two other 'possible cases'.
AP2009

The girl was admitted to the University Hospital of Ghent 11 days ago. There were 'complications', and her condition quickly worsened. She passed away on Monday evening at age 14.

Herzele Sint-Paulus Secondary School informs that pupils were adequately tended to, and parents were promptly notified. The school declares that it is deeply shocked and saddened by the death of one of its students, and expresses its deepest sympathies to the girl's family.

Immediately after the news, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health started an investigation. The girl's classmates were tested for the tuberculosis virus.

Today, one other pupil of Sint-Paulus tested positively, and two others showed 'dubious' results. They will be further examined through a series of tests such as lung x-rays. If one of the tests turns out positive, this doesn't necessarily mean that the teenager is sick, but that a preventive antibiotics treatment is advised.

Other pupils and teachers tested negatively. They will be re-examined in two months. Now, the medical screening is to be extended to the girl's 'less immediate contacts'. It is unclear how many people the health agency is talking about.

Yes, TB still exists in the western world

Grave cases of tuberculosis are very rare in modern western society. The Flemish Agency for Care and Health reports that, over the past ten years, not a single child in Belgium between the age of 4 and 18 died of TB. However, two babies succumbed to the disease, and in adults, there are about twenty TB-related deaths out of an annual average of 1,000 cases. This means the chances of dying of the lung infection are relatively small, and the cause of death often lies beyond the virus itself.