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Pa. families to be contacted about results of tuberculosis testing

January 09, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health made available Monday the results of tuberculosis testing completed for 200 people at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

The school and health department informed families last week of a confirmed case of pulmonary tuberculosis. By letter, it recommended certain students from the school’s population of 2,600 be tested Friday.

Four registered nurses from the Pennsylvania Department of Health performed skin tests at the school, district spokeswoman Catherine Dusman said. A total of 200 students and staff members underwent testing, she said.

Citing privacy laws, the health department would not release to the media the number of positive cases. It read the results Monday and contacted families.

“The Department of Health will be calling the parents of students that had a positive TB test. They will be referred to their health care providers or local hospitals for a chest X-ray,” department spokeswoman Holli Senior wrote in an email.

In a follow-up phone interview, Senior said parents whose teenagers were not yet tested may contact the health department to make arrangements for a skin test.

“If anyone is concerned, they should have their child tested. ... It is not uncommon during an ongoing investigation to find additional individuals that should be tested,” Senior said.

Additional families might be notified of previous, potential exposure to the person with tuberculosis, she said.

A positive TB skin test can reflect a noncontagious, easily treated form of the disease. That is why the health department is telling people with positive results to have a chest X-ray, officials said.

“For those individuals that appear to have had close contact but tested negative, we will be recommending a follow-up skin test in 12 weeks. This is due to the long incubation of tuberculosis,” Senior wrote in an email.

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

“TB is a curable disease and is effectively treated with medication,” Senior wrote.

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.

The bacteria is spread through the air via coughing, shouting or sneezing.

Dusman and Senior said officials are in the initial stages of planning an informational forum for Chambersburg Area School District families.

To learn more

Tuberculosis resources for Chambersburg Area Senior High School parents:

Franklin County State Health Center

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

717-263-4143

877-PA-HEALTH

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