Update 2: One case of latent TB reported after tests on Highline High students, staff

Some 150 students and staff at Highline High School in Burien were tested for Tuberculosis (TB) after a student was diagnosed two weeks ago with an active case of the disease.

Public Health--Seattle and King County staffers supervised testing at the high school on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Those contacted by letter last week were given the option of being tested at the school or at the office of their health care provider.

By Friday, Feb. 8, test results for 79 people had been reported. One person tested positive for a Latent TB infection, according to Kathryn Ross, Public Health spokeswoman. She said no one tested positive for an active case of TB.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, “Persons with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. They are infected with M. tuberculosis, but do not have TB disease. The only sign of TB infection is a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or TB blood test. Persons with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others.”

Ross emphasized that not all Highline students and staff needed to be tested. She said the mandatory testing was only for the original victim’s 150 “close contacts.”

Ross also emphasized that TB is “readily treatable with a prescription that is commonly available.”

She added, “It is important to note that it requires repeated, prolonged exposure to an actively ill person in a confined space to get infected with TB.

“The general public and the school population, in particular, are not at increased risk from TB.”

She said she could not release any information on the victim or how the victim may have gotten the disease.

According to the CDC website, “Tuberculosis (TB) is 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 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.”

The CDC site said TB is not spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing.

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