Seven health and education officials were removed from their posts in central Hunan province on Tuesday over their handling of an outbreak of tuberculosis, according to state media. Some 29 high school and eight vocational school students in Taojiang county were recently confirmed to be infected with the deadly bacterial disease. They were still being treated in hospital, People’s Daily reported on Tuesday. A further 40 students were taking preventive medication because of their high exposure risk. Eight cases of tuberculosis confirmed at Hong Kong secondary school The county officials were held responsible for the outbreak after an investigation by the central government and provincial health authorities, according to the report. Those removed from their posts were the health and education chiefs and their deputies, the local disease control centre director and the presidents of the two schools involved. The first case was diagnosed in a factory worker back in January, and local authorities have been accused of failing to take effective measures to limit the spread of the highly contagious disease. By August, dozens of students at the Taojiang Fourth High School had fallen ill and the local government then activated its emergency response plan, screening thousands of people. The seven officials would be subject to further investigation, according to the report. Experts fear return of Hong Kong’s No 1 killer, TB, amid rise in visitors from disease hot spots and drug resistance Tuberculosis is caused by airborne bacteria spread by coughing, spitting, sneezing or even speaking. Symptoms include coughing up blood, chest pain, fatigue and fever. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.3 million people were killed by the disease last year, mostly in developing countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.