Get the facts straight on Tuberculosis and how it’s spread


Photo from wikimedia.

This is an image of the TB-causing bacteria.

Zing Vang, Reporter

SHS students and their families were surprised by a phone call from principal Ms. Barbara Brouwer on April 22 to inform that some students and staff members have been exposed to tuberculosis (TB) by another student.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that usually infects the lungs, but sometimes it affects other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine and brain. This disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, according to the nurse’s office’s “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about TB” fact sheet.

TB cannot spread to others by touching surfaces, sharing food or drinks, shaking hands, touching or sharing toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, hugging or kissing, sharing clothing, bedding or towels, according to the fact sheet.

However, an infected person cannot spread TB unless that perso

n has symptoms of the disease. 

According to the fact sheet, TB is not easily spread to others. It is spread through the air when in close contact with a person who has the active TB disease, sneezes, speaks, sings or laugh.

Perry Township nursing supervisor Esther L. Moeller says there is one confirmed case in SHS, but it can be treated.

“Tuberculosis itself is a concern,” Moeller said. “But, it is a disease that is curable with medication, so it’s treatable.”

Symptoms of TB are a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum, weakness or fatigue, unexplained weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating at night.

Arrangements have been made for testing on Tuesday, April 27 from 2:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. A tuberculin skin test is the standard test when it comes to checking for TB.

Following a period of 48 to 72 hours, an examination of the area by a medical professional is to determine if a positive reaction has taken place or not. For some cases, drawing blood is needed in order to decide if a person’s been infected with TB.

 “At this point, we are just going to test to make sure that everyones safe,” Moeller said. “We are hopeful that it will be a very positive situation next week.”

The clinic on Tuesday is for people who have been contacted and invited to the clinic and those individuals are identified to be at medium risks. Anyone else in the building can call and make appointment with the health department and go get tested for free.