Questions are being raised over how at least ten people reportedly became infected with a strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

A 23-year-old university student presented to his local GP in Chippendale with a persistent cough, and returned a further two times in three months before he was sent for an X-ray, News Corp reports.

He was initially told his symptoms – including shortness of breath – were the result of asthma. It was after a third visit and a subsequent X-ray, that a 6cm hole was found on his lung.

He was rushed to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on October 21 where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

By that time, the student had become highly contagious and infected up to ten people.

The federal health department said it would follow up the matter with NSW Health.

It’s believed the unidentified student picked up the disease while backpacking through Cambodia, Bali, Thailand, Vietnam and Morocco.

Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health Vicky Sheppeard told 9news.com.au there was no current investigation into the doctor’s misdiagnosis because a “complaint” had not been made.

She also denied there was an outbreak of TB in October, saying the incident was an “isolated case”.

“Public announcements about people with TB disease are rarely necessary as TB is not spread by brief, casual exposure,” she said.

She said the failure to pick up TB “is not unusual”, as it is a “relatively rare” disease in Australia.

A spokesperson for NSW Health added the term “outbreak” was used when more patients are diagnosed than expected, and added ten of the patient’s contacts had “an indication of Tuberculosis infection”.

“None had the active TB disease and all were offered preventative treatment or monitoring by their local chest clinic,” the spokesperson said.

There are around 1300 new cases of TB annually in Australia.

Share your comments below.

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  • that sure is shocking! just the amount of new cases that occur each year! my gosh, be so vigilant


  • It’s always scarey to see the rise of previously controlled diseases. I really do need to get to my gp for vaccination updates


  • Many schools had vaccination programs – don’t know if they still do – but naturally parents had to give consent. It is possible that some children may not have given their parents the notes. I know mine got infected within a few days. I had a very high temperature, painful arm and a pussy vaccination site.


  • TB in the 50’s and 60’s was quite common and most doctors knew the tell tale signs. It has virtually stopped being a problem here, but doctors should still never rule it out if they know the young have been travelling through these countries.


  • Surely travellers are required to be vaccinated before travelling to countries that pose a health risk.


  • Concerning !


  • Tuberculosis is a horrific disease and rather scary. Diseases can be contracted when travelling.


  • Can’t really blame the doctor too much. Not many people would immediately assume TB for a cough.


  • a bit scary but if they sent everyone with a cough to get xrays the hospitals would be backed up for days


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