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Active case of tuberculosis at a Vancouver high school, Clark Co. public health responds

Clark County Public Health is gathering information about an active case of tuberculosis at Skyview High School....

Posted: May 13, 2018 5:54 AM
Updated: May 13, 2018 11:54 AM

Clark County Public Health is gathering information about an active case of tuberculosis at Skyview High School.

Public health was notified by a local health care provider on Tuesday, May 1 of a possible TB case involving a person at Skyview High.

"The period of time we're concerned about people who might've been exposed is July 1 of 2017 to May 1st of 2018. That's a big period," Clark County Public Health Director Doctor Alan Melnick said. "That is a big period so there's a fair number of people that we may need to notify about this."

The diagnosis was confirmed on Monday and parents and staff were notified by phone, email and printed letters on Friday.

"It's a serious illness. If it's untreated yes it can be deadly and if it's not treated correctly you, the germ, can develop resistance and you can get drug-resistant TB. So yeah we take tuberculosis very seriously," Dr. Melnick said.

Dr. Melnick said symptoms can take weeks to surface and 90% of people who contract TB, don't even develop an active disease. However, the news did come as a shock.

"Little bit of a surprise cause TB is not something that's common," he said.

Uncommon in the US and even less typical in schools

But the letter home did have one mother thinking she might be bringing her student to the doctor soon.

"My son's had a cough for a couple of weeks so I just thought he had a nasty head cold and so I hope that's all it is," Alicia Parkison mother of Skyview HS student said.

Public health will be identifying those who may have been in close contact with the person who tested positive for active TB and will notify those individuals directly in the coming days.

Public health will also notify those individuals who may have been exposed and who are potentially at risk for infection.

However, the risk of the disease spreading to students, staff and the public is low.

"It's not as contagious as like measles is or influenza is you really do need to spend prolonged time with somebody in a closed close environment," Dr. Melnick said.

He said there may be a slight risk to people at the school, but there is almost zero danger to the general public.

"I'd be really surprised if we find a significant number even more than a few or even that much of people who become affected from that case," he said.

Back in December, Wyeast Middle School also had a TB case but Dr. Melnick told FOX 12 that the two are not linked.

The person here at Skyview who's contracted the disease has not been at the school since May 1st as that person is getting treatment.

Health officials will be doing TB screenings at the school later this month and they said you will be contacted if you or your child need testing.

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