Person tests positive for tuberculosis at La Plata High
Up to 400 to receive screening
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.