Students, staff possibly exposed to Tuberculosis at school in Cabarrus Co.

HARRISBURG, NC (WBTV) - Officials with Cabarrus County Schools say some staff and students at Hickory Ridge High School may recently have been exposed to an individual with Tuberculosis (TB).

On Tuesday it was discovered that a student at the school did have active TB, according to health officials.

"This exposure is likely to have affected a very small number of individuals, and we are working closely with the public health staff at Cabarrus Health Alliance to contact those individuals who may have been exposed and to ensure that they receive appropriate testing and treatment," school officials said in a letter to parents. "The vast majority of staff and students will not be contacted, and do not need any testing or treatment for TB."

Officials say while it is important for the entire school to be aware, they reiterated that it was a "relatively small number" of people who were likely exposed.

"No one is at immediate risk of any health problems," they said. "There is nothing for you to do unless you are contacted by the school and notified that your child has been identified as having been exposed to TB."

Parents who have questions or concerns regarding this exposure are asked to contact the TB Program at Cabarrus Health Alliance, telephone number 704-920-1213.

Here is what the school told parents to do if their child was possibly exposed:

  • You will be contacted by a letter regarding TB testing in the coming week. If you do not receive a letter, your child does not need testing.
  • Your child will be scheduled to have a TB skin test done at school.
  • If your child’s TB skin test is positive or if a nurse is concerned about symptoms that your child is experiencing, a chest x-ray will be performed to check for any signs of TB illness in the lungs.
  • If the TB skin test is negative, your child will be scheduled to have another TB test done in 2 months.

On Thursday letters went home with the students who may have been at risk of exposure.  The letter was followed up with a phone call.

"A TB and skin test will be provided to the students at Hickory Ridge High School on Tuesday, May 30," said Tamara Staehler of the Cabarrus Health Alliance. "It is an airborne disease but again, we are considering this a low exposure risk so we're talking about people who were in what we call close contact, in close proximity to the person for an extended period of time."

The total number of students receiving the letter represents about 5% of the school population, according to officials.

"I do want to point out that TB is curable even though it can be deadly.  It is very curable especially caught at an early stage in the process, and latent TB is something that you can take medications for as well," Staehler added.

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