Tuberculosis Testing at LBJ High School
January 15, 2010 - In late October 2009, an LBJ high school student was diagnosed with active/contagious TB. The student continues to undergo treatment for the disease and is recovering at home. While the student who is being treated is not being named to comply with federal law regarding student/patient privacy rights, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department (A/TCHHSD) has worked closely with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) to identify persons who may have been exposed and we continue to offer TB testing to those individuals. To date, no additional cases of active TB have been found at LBJ.
Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, is a disease that can damage a person’s lungs or other parts of the body, causing serious illness. It is spread when a person with active, untreated tuberculosis expels TB germs into the air by coughing or speaking. Only people who breathe these germs into their lungs can become infected. Usually people who have had very close, day-to-day contact with the infected person are at higher risk of contracting the illness. TB is less contagious than influenza.
“When a person is infected with the TB germ, but does not have the disease, the person is said to have a latent infection,” said Dr. Philip Huang, Medical Director for Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. “In most people with latent TB, the germ never grows nor becomes active. Those with latent infection are not sick and cannot spread TB to others. People with latent TB can take a medicine to decrease their chance of getting sick later. Otherwise healthy people who have a latent infection have about a 10% chance of getting sick in the future (without preventive treatment). Patients with certain medical problems such as diabetes have an increased risk for getting sick later.”
Standard public health protocols are being followed for LBJ and the Liberal Arts/ Science Academy (LASA), in collaboration with the A/TCCHSD. Initial screening skin tests were conducted (on all students who attended the same classes as the patient) during the last week of October, when the student was initially diagnosed. After initial exposure and testing for tuberculosis, repeat testing is required at least 2 months after exposure to ensure that all TB transmission has been identified. Based on follow-up testing which occurred this past week, additional testing is planned as needed.
More information about TB can be found at the following web addresses:
www.ci.austin.tx.us/health/communicable_disease_tuberculosis.htm and http://www.cdc.gov/tb/
All media inquiries should be directed to:
Carole Barasch: A/TCHHSD 972-6115
Andy Welch: AISD 414-2414