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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs. It is spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

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Causes of tuberculosis

  • Only TB of the lungs or throat can be infectious. You would need to spend many hours close to a person with infectious TB to breathe in enough bacteria to be at risk.  
  • TB can affect any part of the body including kidneys, brain or bones. This is called Non-Pulmonary Tuberculosis and is not infectious.
  • Most people's immune systems are strong enough to kill off TB bacteria.
  • Those most at risk of contracting TB are those that live or who are staying for a period in a household with someone with the infectious form of TB.

Symptoms of tuberculosis

  • A low temperature lasting weeks rather than days
  • A cough which persists for three weeks
  • Loss of appetite and night sweats
  • 50% of children and young people will have no symptoms

Treatments for tuberculosis

  • Treatment consists of a long course of antibiotics lasting at least six months.
  • Finishing treatment is the only way to cure tuberculosis completely.
  • TB can be fatal.

Supporting students with tuberculosis

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Missing school

  • Students seriously ill with TB may need to spend some time in hospital until the medication has started to work.
  • They may have been feeling ill for some time, even to the point of missing school.
  • Liaise promptly with the hospital school staff to ensure continuity of education. 


  • Medication for tuberculosis consists of a long course of antibiotics which takes at least sixth months.
  • Some students may need to visit the local hospital for support in taking their medication. 


  • There is evidence that students can be teased or even bullied if people know they have TB.
  • Be vigilant and act quickly to show this behaviour will not be tolerated.

More information

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)