Solano Public Health, Vallejo High Respond To Active Tuberculosis Case
Solano County Public Health has confirmed an individual associated with Vallejo High School has active contagious tuberculosis.
With the full support of Vallejo High School officials, Solano Public Health staff are evaluating all students and staff to determine who may have been in close contact with the individual who is ill.
"Our number one priority is to ensure the health and safety of the staff and students at Vallejo High School," said Ronald W. Chapman, MD, MPH, Health Officer and Deputy Director for Solano County Health and Social Services. "Although the risk of contracting TB is generally low, we must find anyone who had significant contact with the contagious person, test them, and treat them if necessary, to stop the potential spread of this disease."
TB is a serious and treatable bacterial lung disease. It is transmitted person-to-person through microscopic droplets that enter the air while coughing, sneezing, talking or singing. The most common way to become infected with TB germs is by spending a lot of time in enclosed spaces with a person who has active TB disease.
"Vallejo High School is cooperating 100 percent with Solano Public Health," said Phil Saroyan, Vallejo High School Principal. "We have very few days left in the school year to do the investigation and provide free tests for the TB germ before our staff and students go on summer vacation. Dr. Chapman and I ask for everyone's full cooperation so that we can move through the screening and testing process quickly to protect our students and staff."
TB is a disease that, by law, must be reported to the Public Health Department. Upon notification of the TB disease diagnosis, Solano Public Health nurses acted immediately to begin a thorough contact investigation, starting with the patient and his/her immediate family and close friends.
"Our public health nurses work with the patient and family members to list all of the places they have spent time and all of people who have been in close contact. We find out specific details about where the person with active TB lives, learns, works, plays, and worships," explained Dr. Chapman. "Working like detectives with this information, Public Health staff will track down and test individuals who are significant "contacts" in any locations where they may have been in close contact with the person who has active TB disease."
"There is a difference between TB infection and active TB disease," explained Dr. Chapman. Most people who test positive for TB have TB infection. People with TB infection (without disease) have the TB germ in their body, but they are not sick because the germ is inactive. They cannot spread the germ to others. Over their lifetime, about one out of ten people with TB infection becomes sick with TB disease.
"Few people who test positive with TB have TB disease," said Dr. Chapman. People with TB disease are sick from the germs that are active in their body and they may cough a lot, feel weak, have a fever, lose weight, cough up blood, or sweat a lot at night. People with TB disease are capable of giving the infection to others. TB can be treated and cured.
Although it may be a new experience for the students, parents and school staff involved, communicable disease investigation is a regular activity for Solano Public Health TB Control Program staff. The current investigation under way is an example of TB case investigation and is an important step in helping prevent the spread of TB. All students and staff who have a positive skin test (TB infection) will receive further testing and medication to ensure that they do not develop active TB disease.