Healthy Living

TB: What parents need to know

by Celia Shortt

With the recent case of tuberculosis confirmed at Smokey Road Middle School in Coweta County, District 4 Health released a statement outlining what parents and schools need to know moving forward.

“This [confirmed] diagnosis does not change District 4 Public Health’s response to this situation, as our organization has acted as the case to be positive for tuberculosis even without confirmation and has based our actions and advice on that,” said District Health Director Olugbenga Obasanjo.

What parents and schools need to know now that the tuberculosis case is confirmed:

• As a result of screening tests administered, 28 people have been referred for further testing. That does not mean that these people have TB or that exposure was through this person.

• The skin test given to students is a screening measure meant to indicate a need for further screening for the TB germ. A “positive” reaction to this test does NOT indicate the presence of the TB germ. It only shows the presence of relevant antibodies and indicates need for further testing.

• Of those tested, fewer than 10 percent needed further testing. This rate is within or under the likely rate of positive reactions to the test that would occur in any at-large population.

• The risk of infection from this diagnosed case is minimal. The most common way to become infected with TB germs is to spend a long period of time with a person who has active TB disease. Tuberculosis is spread when a person inhales airborne germs over a long period of time in a confined area with someone who has the active disease and who coughs or sneezes. TB is rarely spread to persons who spend brief amounts of time together, and the good news is, TB infection can be treated and cured and prevented from progressing to active disease, if identified and treated.

Following the suspected case of TB two weeks ago in Coweta, the LaGrange based District 4 Health provided TB health screenings for students and teachers at Smokey Road Middle School. It also screened a smaller number of students from Newnan High School and Western Elementary School who were on a school bus with the student who is suffering from TB.

Of the almost 300 people tested, 28 tested positive for exposure to TB. The total number of people having a positive reaction in this instance falls within the normal average for a large group, state health officials said.

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