Health & Medicine

Florin High School tests show 16 with tuberculosis exposure

Sacramento County public health officer Olivia Kasirye speaks to 80 parents at Florin High School on Monday. A student at the school was diagnosed with tuberculosis on Jan. 26.
Sacramento County public health officer Olivia Kasirye speaks to 80 parents at Florin High School on Monday. A student at the school was diagnosed with tuberculosis on Jan. 26. dlambert@sacbee.com

Sixteen people at Florin High School tested positive for tuberculosis exposure out of 155 students and staff examined after a student was diagnosed last month with an active case of the highly contagious disease, Sacramento County public health officials said Friday.

The 16 will undergo chest X-rays to determine whether they have the active or latent form of the disease, according to health department officials. They will be offered treatment.

Latent tuberculosis has no symptoms and is not infectious. Active tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs and can be fatal, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both forms of tuberculosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

“With these results, we don’t see a lot of evidence of transmission,” said Sacramento County public health officer Olivia Kasirye in a prepared statement. “Those who tested positive will be further evaluated and we will continue to work closely with the school to schedule retesting.”

Between 150 and 200 students at the south Sacramento school received letters asking them to take part in Tuesday’s testing. The students either shared a class or had otherwise been in close proximity with the sick student for a prolonged period of time.

Health officials will hold another round of testing in eight to 10 weeks for those who tested negative this week. This testing will be done because some people who are exposed to TB take longer to react to tests, according to health officials.

Tuberculosis is spread through the air when someone sneezes, coughs, speaks or sings. Symptoms of the disease include a cough that lasts more than three weeks, chest pain, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss. A person who has had TB a long time might also cough up blood.

The student diagnosed with active tuberculosis is being cared for at home under the supervision of a visiting nurse, Kasirye told parents at a Florin High School meeting on Monday.

Last February, a similar diagnosis at Grant High School in Del Paso Heights led to the testing of 345 students and staff members. Ultimately, five students and four friends and relatives of the student were identified with active tuberculosis, and 150 more had the noninfectious form of the disease. Because more than three people contracted active TB from the same source, it was deemed an outbreak.

Parents can call Florin High School at (916) 689-8600 if they have questions about the process. For questions about tuberculosis, they can call Sacramento County at (916) 875-5881.

Call The Bee’s Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert.

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