Tuberculosis confirmed at South High

May 31, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


As many as 200 students and a handful of staff members might have been exposed to tuberculosis by an individual with a confirmed case of the disease at South Hagerstown High School, health department and school officials said Tuesday.

The Washington County Health Department will conduct free testing and an informational meeting about the disease today at the school.

According to Rod MacRae, public information officer for the health department, about 200 letters were sent to the homes of students who might have been exposed to TB, a disease that can cause chest pain, coughing, fever and weight loss. More general letters were sent to the homes of all other students at the school, he said.

About 1,200 students attend South High, Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mown said.

An infectious disease, TB is readily treated and in most cases curable with antibiotics, according to information provided by the health department and the letters sent Saturday.


Not all people who have been infected with TB show symptoms of the disease, which is spread through prolonged, rather than casual, contact.

According to a copy of the letter sent to the parents of students who might have been exposed to TB, health department staff will be at South High today to administer skin tests for the disease.

On Friday, health department staff will examine the marks left on the injection sites on the arms of people who have been tested for TB. Health department staff also will administer make-up tests Friday, according to the letters.

The tests are only valid if health officials can examine the injection sites after the tests are administered, according to the letters that were sent to parents.

People who get the tests today must have their arms examined Friday; people who get the tests Friday must be examined Monday.

South High, where some final exams start today, recorded 92 percent attendance Tuesday, Principal Rick Akers said.

Of the school's 100 or so staff members and teachers, about 10 might have been exposed to the disease, he said.

The individual with tuberculosis no longer is at the school, MacRae said.

Students whose parents received letters recommending testing for the disease could have been exposed to tuberculosis while on the bus or in the classroom, Mowen said. Neither she nor MacRae would comment on whether the infected individual is a student.

Three people were diagnosed with TB last year, MacRae said. Four cases were documented in the county in 2004, and two in 2003, he said.

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