(Memphis) Only about 50 people inside Frayser High School are going home with a letter, alerting them they may have been exposed to tuberculosis and they will need to be tested.
“We don’t go in and test everybody. We want to identify those at greatest risk,” said Dr. Helen Morrow with the Shelby County Health Department.
She won’t say when they were first alerted about the TB or how it came to their attention.
Dr. Morrow says they try to respond quickly, but when you are dealing with a large environment like a school, you have to work around a lot of schedules in order to test others who may have been exposed.
“The smallest ring is the people closest to the person in all their environments and we test those people first,” said Morrow.
If they need to expand that circle, then more people will be notified.
It’s little comfort to parents who never got word.
“I’m gonna ask is it true, what we are hearing on the news. Is it anyway possible this school has been exposed to tuberculosis, because if it has, every parent deserves the right to know,” said Pamela Trenell,, who has a child attending Frayser High.
The Shelby County School System says as soon as the health department contacted the district about a confirmed TB case, letters and phone calls went out to affected staff and parents.
The health department admits it takes eight weeks for a tuberculosis test to be confirmed, so an infected person may not be officially diagnosed for a while. Then they have to figure out who that person has been around.
“If you are in choir you may be singing next to somebody. So we have to consider the type of exposure and the length of time,” said Morrow.
The health department says no testing has been done at Frayser High yet, but that will begin this week at the school.
The 50 or so people will undergo skin test reaction for TB.
If the test is positive, then more tests will be called for, including a saliva sample.
The drug treatment for TB can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.