27 tested for potential TB exposure

by Celia Shortt

Following Wednesday’s tuberculosis screenings at Coweta County’s Smokey Road Middle School, 27 individuals out of the 287 screened will be receiving continued medical evaluation for positive exposure to the TB germ.

The results for the bus riders from Newnan High School and Western Elementary will likely be available on Monday, regional health officials said.

Earlier this week, LaGrange-based District 4 Health Services officials 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.”

Folden said it will be four to six weeks until they know whether the case of TB is confirmed, but they are treating it as if it is confirmed and moving forward with everyone else while they wait for the results. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10 percent of people in the general population tested for TB will have a positive reaction to the skin test. The total number of people having a positive reaction in this instance falls within the average for a large group.

For those who showed a positive reaction, further testing is required. This testing is usually a chest X-ray and is needed to determine whether the infected person has TB. If the X-ray is normal for any of them, they are diagnosed as having latent TB infection and are given a regimen of preventive medicine.

If the chest X-ray is abnormal, a sputum specimen will be collected and examined for the presence of the TB germ. If it is present, the person is considered to have active TB disease and to be potentially infectious. Treatment for people with active TB usually starts with a four-drug regimen. These drugs are taken orally and under strict supervision until completion of therapy.

Usual symptoms for active TB include:

• a productive cough lasting more than three weeks 

• fever 

• chills 

• night sweats 

• getting tired easily 

• loss of appetite 

• weight loss and coughing up blood may be symptoms of infectious tuberculosis of the lungs.

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