A 21-YEAR-OLD university student who died in hospital last week had contracted tuberculosis, public health officials have confirmed.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said friends of Craig White were being offered screening for the infection after a post-mortem examination identified disseminated TB as the provisional cause of his death.
Mr White, who was studying for a degree in journalism at the University of Lincoln, died on December 12 after being admitted to Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital.
The student, from Boston, had tweeted about suffering from constant headaches in the months before his death.
In a statement issued by the HPA, Dr Katie Geary, a consultant in communicable disease control, said cases of disseminated TB were rare but not unheard of in the UK.
Dr Geary said: “Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.
“As part of normal practice, all close contacts considered to be at risk of contracting the disease will be offered screening to see if they’ve been exposed to the infection.”
Dr Geary added: “Exposure to the infection through contact with someone who has the illness does not mean that an individual will go on to develop TB.
“Transmission occurs through coughing of infectious droplets and usually requires prolonged close contact with an infectious case.”
An inquest into the death was opened and adjourned by the Coroner for South Lincolnshire, Professor Robert Forrest, earlier yesterday.
TB, which can be treated with specific antibiotics, develops slowly in the body, the HPA said, and it usually takes several months for symptoms to appear.
Symptoms can include fever and night sweats, an unexplained prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss or blood in phlegm.
A University of Lincoln spokesman said: “We now know that Craig died as a result of developing tuberculosis.
“Craig was a much-loved member of the Lincoln School of Journalism and the whole university community has been deeply saddened by his untimely death.”