Oil rig workers checked for TB after colleague tests positive

The men who have been tested for TB were working on an oil rig in the Caspian Sea.
The men who have been tested for TB were working on an oil rig in the Caspian Sea.
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OIL rig workers from across Tyneside are being screened for TB after a colleague - thought to come from South Tyneside - tested positive for the condition.

Public health bosses have confirmed that screenings are taking place, but are satisfied there is no risk to the wider public.

TB does not spread easily and tends to be passed on only after prolonged close contact with an infectious person over several days.

Public Health England

The men had been working on a rig in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea when one worker contracted the infection.

Health bosses in the UK were immediately informed.

Oil and gas exploration company Amec Foster Wheeler employs some of the workers who have now been contacted, while others are agency workers contracted to the Aberdeen-based company.

Neither Amec nor Public Health England were able to confirm how many workers face tests, although it is understood the figure is between 20 and 30.

The rig workers have each been sent letters telling them to undergo screening.

A spokesman for Public Health England (PHE) said: “We have been notified of a confirmed case of TB diagnosed in the North East in an oil rig worker who works abroad.

“There was no risk identified to the public in the North East, but in light of a possible occupational exposure abroad, the employer was informed.

“We have been discussing appropriate action with the employer as this is an occupational health issue.

“TB does not spread easily and tends to be passed on only after prolonged close contact with an infectious person over several days.”

PHE said it was first notified of a case of TB by a doctor in the region.

A spokeswoman for Amec Foster Wheeler said: “We can confirm that a number of workers from the Caspian Sea have been contacted regarding precautionary testing for TB following the positive test results of one of their colleagues.

“This was done in line with advice from Public Health England.”

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection which mainly affects the lungs.