(Memphis) The Shelby County Health Department is still testing for TB at Frayser High School after a student tested positive in February.
Public Health Information Officer Elizabeth Hart says the testing is part of the department’s ongoing investigation.
“This is an ongoing tuberculosis investigation,” Hart said in a statement. “Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, some individuals are being tested again while others who weren’t available the first time will now be tested.”
In February, the health department identified between 35 and 50 people who were in close contact with the student.
“We don’t go in and test everybody. We want to identify those at greatest risk,” the health department’s Dr. Helen Morrow said in February.
Tuesday, parents were shocked and angry after finding out tuberculosis testing is still underway at the school, and told WREG they want more widespread testing.
Those who the health department believed were exposed are being medically evaluated and offered free medicine.
But parents like Chandeliar Strong think that’s not enough.
“They need to test every last person in that school,” she said.
Others want the testing to be even more widespread. “
They really need to test all schools,” another mother said. “Just because one school got it like that, doesn’t mean they all don’t got it like that.”
They want to know now that their kids can go to school without being exposed to a deadly disease.
“It should have been done quicker than they’re doing now,” Strong said.
“It’s very scary,” she added. “There’s no telling if you’ll even wake up to see another day.”
It takes eight weeks for a tuberculosis test to be confirmed, so an infected person may not be officially diagnosed for a while. Then the health department has 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 drug treatment for TB can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.
From the CDC:
TB is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB disease was once the leading cause of death in the United States.
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.