Health experts discuss Tuberculosis outbreak at local school

Health department shared findings after outbreak investigation at high school

Author: Erica Rakow, General assignment reporter, erakow@wjxt.com
Published On: Nov 14 2013 06:08:59 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 14 2013 09:18:22 PM EST
Tuberculosis
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Thursday evening, health experts, school officials, parents and students from Andrew Jackson High School met to discuss the Tuberculosis outbreak at the school.

Since two students came down with the disease last week, the health department has been investigating and shared its findings Thursday night.

About 100 students at the school were identified for testing, and 60 have already been tested.. The health department's decision to continue testing more students for the disease is expected to be discussed Thursday. Local doctors said it's a good meeting for concerned parents to be at.

Any time there's an exposure of a contagious or infectious disease, it's the health departments role to launch an investigation and determine who has been exposed to that infection.

"If some of the students who have disease will be contagious then that's the role of the health department and the childs physicians to determine if they're contagious or not. Just because you have the infection does not mean you are contagious," said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, Chief of Infectious Disease at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease and is treatable. Health officials said they got word in the beginning of November, that a student was in the hospital and a couple days later it was confirmed to be Tuberculosis. That same day, they learned of a second case from the school.

At that time, health investigators went to work finding out who else might've been exposed. They tested 100 students who shared the same space and breathed the same air as the infected students for at least twenty minutes.

Dr. Rathore said parents going to Thursday night's meeting need to know the proper questions to ask. He advises parents find out if their child's exposure is high risk or not.

"Some will have infection, not all of them. Some will have infection and small part of those who have infection will actually have disease... very small number and we can treat both the infection and disease. Disease is more serious then infection. Infection requires one maybe two medications for nine months and disease requires ventilation and more drugs to treat the Tuberculosis disease," said Dr. Rathore.

The two students who were infected are both at home and expected to recover.