45 students at California high school possibly exposed to TB

Health officials are taking precautionary measures by testing all 1,800 faculty and staff at Indio High School in Southern California and say that the chances of the illness spreading from one person to the next are low.
Posted By Ananth Baliga  |  Dec. 20, 2013 at 10:05 AM
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Nearly 1,800 students will be tested for tuberculosis after 45 students at Indio High school in Southern California tested positive for possible exposure to the illness, according to health officials.

The Riverside County Public Health Department earlier in the week tested 131 students after a student after a student was diagnosed with active TB. Forty-five of these students tested positive for possible exposure, which means they didn't have active TB but needed further testing.

“While the number of those who tested positive is higher than we would expect, that does not mean the illness has spread or will spread,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the health officer for the county. “The likelihood of the illness being passed from one person to the next is remote.”

The testing clinic will be set up at the school Friday and will be for faculty and students, with officials saying that there is no imminent need to test other schools. In a letter to parents, school principal Rudy Ramirez informed parents about the testing and said that students would have to return to school Dec. 23 to have their test results evaluated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that usually attack the lungs, but they can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB can be fatal. It is spread through the air from one person to another.

The illness is not transmitted by physical contact, like shaking hands or sharing food and drink. Symptoms include coughing with sputum, coughing up blood, chest pain, loss of appetite and fever with night sweats.

[Riverside County Public Health Department] [CDC]

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