Tuberculosis discovered at Chambersburg Area Senior High School

Up to 200 students to be tested

January 04, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Up to 200 students at Chambersburg Area Senior High School will be tested for pulmonary tuberculosis on Friday because a case of the bacterial infection has been confirmed in someone at the school.

Parents of the school’s 2,600 students received letters on Wednesday after school officials met with members of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which will conduct the testing.

Some of the families received letters describing the situation, while 150 to 200 others received copies with an additional section saying their child might have been exposed and can be tested with parental consent.

School and health department officials would not confirm whether the sick person was a student or an employee.

The tests involve a skin prick. Results will be available to families and tested employees on Monday, according to school district spokeswoman Catherine Dusman.

“The department of health nurses will contact the parents if it’s a positive result,” said Dusman, an assistant superintendent.

TB symptoms include a cough lasting three weeks or more, unexplained loss of weight or appetite, chest pain, night sweats, fatigue, nausea, fever and coughing up blood or chills, according to a health department fact sheet.

In 2007, the latest year for which information is available online, Pennsylvania reported 276 cases of TB, more than half of which involved people born outside the country.

Because the bacteria is spread through the air via coughing, shouting or sneezing, Dusman said she was not aware of any special cleaning measures being taken in the building.

The patient is now being treated and is not in school, Dusman said.

Health department spokeswoman Holli Senior said she was not aware of any additional, current TB cases in Franklin County.

“Pulmonary TB is infectious, and persons who spend significant time near someone with infectious TB may become infected. It is important to find out if the disease has spread to others; therefore, the Department of Health is undergoing an investigation to determine who the infected person may have been in contact with while infectious,” Senior wrote in an email.

A person cannot get TB from someone’s clothes, drinking glass, handshake or toilet, Senior said.

“Tuberculosis is rarely transmitted by casual contact. TB is a curable disease and effectively treated with medication,” she said.

Concerned citizens may contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s center in Franklin County, Pa., at 717-263-4143 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or they can call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

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