Per­son tests pos­i­tive for tu­ber­cu­lo­sis at La Plata High

Up to 400 to re­ceive screen­ing

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

The Charles County De- part­ment of Health and Charles County Pub­lic Schools an­nounced that an in­di­vid­ual at La Plata High School has tested pos­i­tive for tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, and more than 300 peo­ple will need to be tested.

Donna Thomas, di­rec­tor of prepa­ra­tion and re­sponse ser­vices for the health de­part­ment, said the in­di­vid­ual’s im­me­di­ate fam­ily has al­ready been tested, and that the next cir­cle of test­ing is done for those in close con­tact with the in­di­vid­ual in the place

where they work or go to school.

School sys­tem spokes­woman Ka- tie O’Mal­ley-Simpson con­firmed that the ad­min­is­tra­tion had been no­ti­fied Wed­nes­day that an in­di­vid­ual at La Plata High had tested pos­i­tive.

O’Mal­ley-Simpson said the school sys­tem could not iden­tify if the in­di­vid­ual was a stu­dent or staff mem­ber, cit­ing pri- vacy con­cerns.

A let­ter was sent home to par­ents and school staff mem­bers, let­ting them know about the pos­i­tive tu­ber­cu­lo­sis test.

A sec­ond let­ter will be sent out by early next week to those who have been identi- fied by the school as pos­si­bly hav­ing had pro­longed ex­po­sure to the in­di­vid­ual di- ag­nosed with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, along with a test­ing con­sent form, Thomas said.

“What we’re in the process of do­ing is iden­ti­fy­ing those in­di­vid­u­als who have had pro­longed ex­po­sure to the in­di­vid- ual, based on guide­lines the health de­part­ment has pro­vided,” O’Mal­ley-Simpson said.

She said the health de­part­ment will be go­ing into the school Dec. 5 to pro­vide free tu­ber­cu­lo­sis screen­ings to those iden­ti­fied.

Ap­prox­i­mately 350 to 400 in­di­vid­u­als will need to be screened, O’Mal­ley-Simp- son said.

A nurse will check the re­sults of the test 48 to 72 hours later, she said.

Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis is a bac­te­rial ill­ness typ- ically spread when the in­fected per­son coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, and in- di­vid­u­als breathe in the air con­tain­ing the tu­ber­cu­lo­sis germs, ac­cord­ing to an on­line fact sheet pub­lished by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention (CDC).

Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis gen­er­ally re­quires pro­longed ex­po­sure to the in­fected in­di­vidu- al in or­der to breathe in enough tu­ber­cu­lo­sis germs to cause an in­fec­tion, and is not trans­mit­ted through phys­i­cal con­tact or shar­ing eat­ing uten­sils, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter sent home to par­ents.

Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis typ­i­cally af­fects the lungs, but can also af­fect other parts of the body, in­clud­ing the brain, kid­neys and spine, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

Symp­toms of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis dis­ease in­clude sick­ness or weak­ness, weight loss and fever. Symp­toms of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis dis­ease of the lungs also in­clude cough­ing, chest pain and cough­ing up blood, the CDC states.

Not every­one in­fected with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis has tu­ber­cu­lo­sis dis­ease; the in­fec­tion can lay dor­mant in an in­di­vid­ual, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about tu­ber­cu­lo­sis can be found on the De­part­ment of Health’s web­site at www.charle­scoun­ty­health.org.

The De­part­ment of Health will set up a phone line for in­di­vid­u­als with ques­tions about this tu­ber­cu­lo­sis event at 301-6096888.

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