Skin tests for tuberculosis are being conducted this week at Westhill High School in the wake of a report last week that a student had contracted the disease. The tests were offered Monday to students and staff concerned they might have been exposed to the infectious disease. The free tests will be offered again Wednesday and Friday.
This particular case is a very low-risk case, but we are treating it the same way we are treating any case, said Dr. Henry Yoon, medical adviser to the Stamford Department of Health and Human Services.
The incidence involves only one student, said Yoon. The school district and health department learned about it last Wednesday, and letters went out to the entire Westhill population Thursday, he said. A second letter was then sent to persons, such as classmates, who might have come into close contact with the student.
Letters to a subpopulation went out where we encouraged them to get tested, Yoon said.
By the time the health department was informed about the case, the student had already begun treatment, said Yoon. I can say the student did not attend school knowing [of the infection], he said. Yoon said the student is not considered infectious now and has not been prevented from attending school.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is spread from one person to another through the air via coughing, sneezing, laughing or singing. There are two types of TB. With the latent form, germs can live in a persons body without making the person sick. Active TB germs, however, spark illness. This infectious form of TB can attack the lungs and other parts of the body, including brain, kidneys and spine.
Active TB is treated with a regimen of antibiotics, said Yoon. The skin test offered this week looks for a reaction the body makes to the bacterium, he said. Since it takes about eight to 10 weeks for the disease to manifest itself in the body, Yoon recommends that anyone who takes the test this week and receives a negative result repeat it in about 10 weeks to be certain there is no infection.
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