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Cobb County Tests Students For Tuberculosis

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Contra Costa County health officials said that they are investigating a case of tuberculosis involving a student at a local high school. The active case of tuberculosis was confirmed Thursday night and the student is no longer in school.

Contra Costa Health Services Communicable Disease Chief Francie Wise said staff from the county's Tuberculosis Control Program is working with school officials at Antioch High School to inform parents.

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"We know parents may be concerned and we want to let people know tuberculosis generally does not spread easily. Infection usually requires repeated face-to-face contact of at least six to eight hours," Wise said. "As a protective measure, on September 22 we will test those who shared classrooms with the student."

Tuberculosis is caused by a germ that usually infects the lungs. It can be spread from person to person through coughing. It is treatable with an extended course of medications. Symptoms of active tuberculosis include a prolonged cough, fever, night sweats and unexpected weight loss of at least 10 pounds.

Not everyone who is exposed to tuberculosis will be infected. Most people who are infected with the germ never develop active tuberculosis, will not have symptoms and cannot spread the germ to others. There were 79 reported cases of tuberculosis in Contra Costa County in 2008.

According to Wise, tuberculosis infection can be identified with a simple skin test. If a skin test is positive, a chest X-ray is usually necessary to determine if the infection is active tuberculosis. Wise said concerned students and parents could also contact their health care provider for further testing.