Long queues for TB checks in Welsh village after an outbreak of the killer disease

Hundreds have queued for tuberculosis screenings in Llanelli following an outbreak of the disease in the area.

Public Health Wales confirmed recently there had been 29 known cases of TB in the Llwynhendy area of Llanelli, since 2010 including one death in 2018.

Last week around 80 residents and people who frequent the Joiners Arms – a pub linked to the outbreak – were invited to attend screenings as they had been identified as ‘contacts’ of the confirmed TB cases. 

Margaret Pegler, 64, died in September 2018 just five days after she was diagnosed with TB. She had been complaining of symptoms for three months but they were not picked up by doctors.  

Public health officials have begun screening people in South Wales who were regulars in the Joiners Arms in Llywnhendy, near Llanelli, after 29 cases of tuberculosis were identified in the area since 2010 leading to one fatality in 2018

Public health officials have begun screening people in South Wales who were regulars in the Joiners Arms in Llywnhendy, near Llanelli, after 29 cases of tuberculosis were identified in the area since 2010 leading to one fatality in 2018

Public health officials have begun screening people in South Wales who were regulars in the Joiners Arms in Llywnhendy, near Llanelli, after 29 cases of tuberculosis were identified in the area since 2010 leading to one fatality in 2018

Long queues were spotted outside the Llywnhendy Health Centre where people were invited to get screened for the potentially fatal disease

Long queues were spotted outside the Llywnhendy Health Centre where people were invited to get screened for the potentially fatal disease

Long queues were spotted outside the Llywnhendy Health Centre where people were invited to get screened for the potentially fatal disease

Health officials want to screen anyone who may have been in contact with those who contracted TB in this latest outbreak

Health officials want to screen anyone who may have been in contact with those who contracted TB in this latest outbreak

Health officials want to screen anyone who may have been in contact with those who contracted TB in this latest outbreak

Margaret Pegler, 64, who died last year five days after she was diagnosed with TB was not a regular at the bar, but visited occasionally for food.  

She fell ill last June after suffering a persistent cough and night sweats but doctors failed to immediately identify her condition as tuberculosis.

Mrs Pegler was diagnosed with TB on September 14, 2018 but her condition worsened and she died just five days later.

Her daughter Joanna, 43, said: ‘She should never have gone. She should never have died ever – not from that.’

Margaret Pegler, 64, pictured, died five days after she was diagnosed with TB last September. She had been complaining of symptoms for the previous three months but they were not picked up by medics

Margaret Pegler, 64, pictured, died five days after she was diagnosed with TB last September. She had been complaining of symptoms for the previous three months but they were not picked up by medics

Margaret Pegler, 64, pictured, died five days after she was diagnosed with TB last September. She had been complaining of symptoms for the previous three months but they were not picked up by medics

Mrs Pegler’s family say they were ‘disgusted’ at her failed diagnosis.

Joanna said: ‘We have put a complaint into the hospital. We want answers from it all.’

Health officials are now carrying out up to 700 screenings after villagers rushed for testing.

Shaun Greaney, who lives in Llwynhendy, said he was ‘concerned’ the community didn’t know about the outbreak sooner.

‘It shouldn’t have been left to get to this stage where so many people have had to turn up to get checked out and it has caused alarm in the community

‘Why has it taken so long for them to tell us?’

Vikki Rees, who used to work in the village said she wanted to be screened for ‘peace of mind’.

‘We thought it is best to get tested to avoid any further concern.

‘They have put the right things in place now to prevent future spreading of TB.’

Llwynhendy is between Llanelli and Swansea in south Wales

Llwynhendy is between Llanelli and Swansea in south Wales

Llwynhendy is between Llanelli and Swansea in south Wales

Public Health Wales wrote to 80 villagers from Llwynhendy asking them to attend screenings but also urged customers and employees of the Joiners Arms between 2005 and 2018 to get checked.

They also said adults who have been in the same room for more than eight hours as someone with TB, within four months before the person with TB was diagnosed and treated should be tested.

Dr Brendon Mason of Public Health Wales said: ‘TB has been circulating at a low level in Llwynhendy for some time and our aim is to ensure that all affected individuals proceed to treatment as soon as possible so that we can halt any further spread of the disease and bring the outbreak under control..’

The pub’s owners SA Brain said it was ‘inevitable that several of those affected will have used the pub and mixed with others there’.

Simon Alan from Llwynhendy was one of those queuing today, at the Joiners Arms.

He said there were far more than 80 people queuing to be tested for the disease.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person

‘It was bedlam down there. We were circling the pub for around an hour just trying to find somewhere to park,’ he said.

‘There were people queuing outside in the rain for hours then being turned away at the end. We queued for ages and then weren’t even able to get tested and told to go to our GP instead.

‘We were speaking to people in the queue who had come down all the way from Ammanford but wanted to get screened for peace of mind, but there should have been more prioritising as we drink in the pub almost every week and weren’t even able to get tested in the end.’

‘In the end we saw so many people give up after having enough of queuing and if they didn’t give up they were being turned away, it was chaos,’ said the Llanelli resident.

Screening in the Joiners Arms was not the only site to be under immense pressure with reports of hundreds of people also queuing to be screened in both Parc y Scarlets and Llwynhendy surgery.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

The condition is usually found in the lungs but it can affect other parts of the body.

The most common symptom of TB is a persistent cough for more than three weeks, with spit which can sometimes be blood-stained. 

Adult customers and employees of the Joiners Arms public house in Llwynhendy between 2005 and 2018 only who have not previously been identified as a contact of someone infected with TB;

Adults who have been in the same room for more than eight hours as someone with TB, within four months before the person with TB was diagnosed and treated.

WHAT IS TUBERCULOSIS?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread between people by coughing and sneezing.

The infection usually affects the lungs but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system.

In healthy people the bacteria are often killed by the immune system or at least prevented from spreading, but in some cases the bacteria can take hold and cause a more serious infection.

The infection usually affects the lungs but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system

The infection usually affects the lungs but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system

The infection usually affects the lungs but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system

TB infection causes symptoms like fever, coughing, night sweats, weight loss, tiredness and fatigue, a loss of appetite and swellings in the neck.

If the immune system fails to contain TB bacteria the infection can take weeks or months to take hold and produce symptoms, and if it is left untreated it can be fatal.

TB is a common cause of death among people with HIV, because it is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems – people with HIV are thought to be up to 27 times more likely to get the disease.

With treatment, TB can almost always be cured with antibiotics and people tend to stop being contagious after about three weeks of therapy.

TB is most common in less developed countries in sub-saharan and west Africa, southeast Asia, Russia, China and South America. 

Source: NHS   

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