Suspected tuberculosis investigated at Smokey Road

by Celia Shortt

Earlier this week, the LaGrange-based District 4 Health Services informed the Coweta County School System that a student at Smokey Road Middle School had a suspected case of tuberculosis.

“It is not a confirmed case,” said Risk Communicator for District 4 Health Service Hayla Folden. “It is a suspected case of tuberculosis.”

In a letter sent home to Smokey Road Middle School families and families of students who may have been exposed, District Health Director Olugbenga Obasanjo MD, PhD, M.P.H. said the risk of infection is minimal, and the department is working with the school system to identify students who may have been at risk of contact.

In his letter, Obasanjo also said TB is rarely spread to people who have minimal contact with one another. The most common way to be infected with TB is to spend a long time with someone who has an active case of it.

According to Folden, they are also treating this case as if it is tuberculosis even though it has not been confirmed and are investigating the number of people who may have been exposed to the student. The affected student is receiving the medical care as if he or she had the illness. Folden also said this student is not at school.

For those who may have been exposed, they are receiving screenings to determine their exposure. Coweta County Health Department nurses administered TB tests to Smokey Road Middle School students and staff on Wednesday. Those results should be available on Friday.

Health Department nurses will be at Newnan High School and Western Elementary on Friday to administer tests to a small number of bus-riders who may have had contact with the student. Those results will be available on Monday.

If any of the screenings come back positive, those students and or staff will be given a chest x-ray. If they are negative, they will re-tested in eight weeks to better rule out a recent exposure to TB, per the guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control. She also stressed the importance of the screenings regardless of the results.

“If it is not (TB), these students will now have a baseline for exposure or non-exposure,” she said. “As of October 2013, I did not have (or did have) TB.”

According to Coweta County School System Public Information Officer Dean Jackson, the screenings seem to be going well.

“Sally Millians, the school system’s chief nurse, worked with health department nurses and District 4 personnel today at Smokey Road, and said that the screenings went extremely well,” said Jackson Wednesday afternoon. “She was extremely complementary of the District 4 and Health Department’s response to the matter and their organization of the screening tests today at Smokey Road.”

Folden said that, in addition to determining who has been exposed, they are also investigating where this student came into contact with a micro-bacterium.

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