Health officials confirm case of tuberculosis at school near Charlotte

ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) — Health officials have confirmed a case of tuberculosis in a student at a middle school in Rock Hill. The confirmation comes a week after a letter was sent to parents at the same school about a possible case of tuberculosis.

Health officials alerted Rock Hill’s Castle Heights Middle School parents via letter Thursday.

The school principal also sent a message to parents and said the student is “recovering well.”

Now the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will begin a contact investigation to see if other students or staff may have come into close contact with the sick child.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL LETTER SENT TO PARENTS

The letter says that the people who are close contacts will receive the recommendation to be tested for TB first.

TB is described as a lung infection that can spread through the air by a person who has TB. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Testing everyone in a school is rarely recommended.

Some parents who talked to WBTV Friday said they planned to have their teenager go to the doctor just as a precaution.

“You don’t want to be that parent that overreacts, but you don’t want to under-react either,” said Courtney Deaton.

Deaton’s child is in 8th grade at Castle Heights Middle School. She said she had a discussion with her daughter after receiving the email.

“As a parent, I asked her if she had noticed any of the children – any of her close friends being out of school – had she heard about it?”

Health officials told WBTV only a person with a confirmed case who is showing symptoms, could spread the bacteria.

Symptoms include a cough lasting for three weeks, and sometimes involving blood or sputum, and chest pains.

“Just because somebody is exposed to tuberculosis does not necessarily mean that they’re going to become infected or that they’re ever going to be sick,” said Dr. Melissa Overman, a epidemiologist with the state of South Carolina.

Overman said thanks to winter break, no extra cleaning is recommended for the school.

“The bacteria float in the air and then settle on hard objects, and after about four hours then that bacteria is dead,” Overman said.

Health officials will contact anyone found to be at risk and who is recommended for testing by next Friday.

“Everybody related to the school should not feel uncomfortable with going back for classes,” Overman said.

Deaton plans to take her teenager to the doctor Monday, just to put any lingering concerns to rest.

“Some of them don’t think it’s a big deal but some of these kids, they’re actually really concerned about it,” Deaton said.

Parents are invited to an informational meeting at the Castle Heights Middle School auditorium on January 5 at 5:30.

Officials from DHEC will be on site to answer questions and concerns.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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