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HS Students In Texas To Undergo Tuberculosis Testing After Active Case Has Been Detected

15 June 2017, 6:13 am EDT By Katrina Pascual Tech Times
A case of active tuberculosis has been detected in George Bush High School and spawned a health investigation. Shown here is a Mantoux tuberculin skin test conducted in a patient's forearm.   ( CDC | Wikimedia Commons )

School officials and authorities have confirmed a case of active tuberculosis at the George Bush High School campus in Fort Bend County in Texas.

A public health inspection has been started and will continue in the next few days, according to the Fort Bend County Health and Human Services as revealed in an official statement.

Routine Inspection Following Active TB Case

Blood testing at the school will start on June 19. Officials noted that 600 students who need to be tested, as well as their families, will be notified. Among teachers, 27 will also undergo testing.

Based on the health department’s protocol, a probe should be done to find potential infections from the source case. Family members are tested first, and then those who made close contact with the patient, including people in their school or work environments.

Those who are not deemed at risk but are seeking medical evaluation are advised to visit their doctor or a health clinic.

Authorities discovered the active case last May 30, but have not revealed if the said case is a student, teacher, or school employee.

Just last March, 66 prisoners in a suburban Seattle county jail were tested for TB after an inmate was discovered to be infected. The affected inmate was in contact with other prisoners as well as staff from Nov. 20, 2016, when he was admitted to the facility, to March 1, when he was diagnosed.

The Truth About Tuberculosis

Caused by bacteria, tuberculosis usually leads to a disease of the lungs. It may, however, also affect other body organs.

TB is not spread as easily as other infections such as cold or flu. It can spread from one person to another, but it could take prolonged close contact with someone with active TB to get sick. It may also be transmitted if droplets are coughed or sneezed out and reach another person’s lungs.

TB symptoms include prolonged coughing for more than two weeks, night sweats, fevers, unexplained loss of weight, and blood in cough.

It is important to note, however, that a positive diagnosis may not necessarily mean one has active TB. It simply reflects bacterial exposure, and the patient may not develop the disease at all or spread it to anyone else.

TB Diagnosis: Trends And Problems

In 2016, TB killed 1.8 million worldwide or 4,900 people every day. Among the biggest issues here is drug-resistant tuberculosis, called “Ebola with wings” by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to poor cure rates.

Around the world, there are 10.4 million new cases diagnosed, with India carrying the biggest burden at 27 percent. A majority of patients suffer from Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in their lungs, some of which can be spread from animals to humans.

Despite the growing issue of drug resistance, the WHO excluded TB from its recent antimicrobial resistance (AMR) priorities report.

“A full third of the deaths from AMR are directly attributable to TB. Tuberculosis is the single greatest antimicrobial threat,” said Stephen Lewis of AIDS Free World in a keynote speech.

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