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Health officials still trying to make ruling on TB scare

December 19, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Health officials said they were still trying to determine whether a person at the Career Studies Center has contracted tuberculosis.

It could be another week or two before officials make a determination, said Robert Parker, health officer for Washington County.

Meanwhile, family members and people with whom the person was in close contact at the Career Studies Center have tested negative for the disease, said Parker.

Those results mean it is "probably a low-risk case."

Officials first reported the possible TB case Nov. 20. They would not say whether the person was a teacher or a student at the Oak Ridge Drive School, saying further identification would not be appropriate.

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George Comstock, a local doctor who has received international acclaim for his work in studying TB, said there are several ways to test a person for the disease, and that most take about a week.

But there are occasions when testing takes longer, Comstock said.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell if the disease organism being tested came from an individual or from another source, he said. In such cases, tests might be repeated three or four times to make a correct determination, which can delay the process, said Comstock.

The tests in the Career Studies Center case are being performed at the state Public Health Lab in Baltimore, Parker said.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that in humans usually spreads through the air. Antibiotics are used to fight the disease, and the cure rate is very high, officials said.

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