(Memphis) The Shelby County Health Department is investigating a confirmed case of tuberculosis at Wooddale High School, according to Shelby County Schools.
“Epidemiologists and our staff work with the school district and those involved at the school,” Elizabeth Hart of the health department said.
Hart also said they’re focusing on the person infected with TB and only those who have had direct contact with that person, and that everyone else should be OK.
“If anyone had been in contact, they would have received a letter and been notified through us,” she said. “You shouldn’t worry because our staff is taking care of it.”
But if the health department learns of more places the infected student or teacher could have passed on the disease, then more people will be tested for it.
TB is easily spread through the air by coughing and sneezing, which concerned sophomore Melissa Dinh.
“I never thought about that, if it’s a regular sneeze or cough,” she said. “I’m not scared or anything. I’ll be more cautious this time.”
She added, “I’m glad you’re telling us, because I didn’t hear about it at school.”
In February, a TB investigation began at Frayser High School after a student tested positive for the contagious disease, which can affect your lungs, brain, kidneys, and spine.
As of April 1, the investigation at Frayser High was still underway
Those who the health department believed were exposed are being medically evaluated and offered free medicine.
TB symptoms include weight loss, fever, and night sweats.
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.
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.