A case of tuberculosis has Lafayette High School on high alert

Case being invested by the Office of Public Health

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 6:43pm

A possible case of tuberculosis is reportable by law in the state of Louisiana. If any physician or hospital has a possible case, like the one seen at Lafayette High School, it is reported to the Office of Public Health. The OPH then immediately starts an investigation of the possible spread of the disease.

"We identify those people at highest risk so people that have close potentially have close prolonged contact and then we do a blood test to identify whether or not they were exposed to the TB bacteria," says Tina Stefanski, MD, regional administrator and medical director.

If you test positive for exposure to Tuberculosis disease, it is not the end of the world.

"If we identify that someone was exposed there's actually medication that we can give people.  They take it by mouth for several months and it actually helps to prevent them from ever developing TB disease," says Stefanski.

What makes TB disease so serious?

"So it can be spread through the air when someone coughs, sings, talks, and spews the tuberculosis bacteria through the air," says Stefanski.

Precautionary measures must be taken because tuberculosis can be spread through the air, mostly by people in close prolonged, repeated contact. The office of Public Health has identified 200 people that will be tested that might have had prolonged, repeated contact with the person that has the possible case. They are not, however, identifying whether the person is a part of the staff, faculty, or student body.

The OPH is doing testing of those 200 faculty staff and students at the school next Monday and Tuesday. If any of those tests turn out positive, the OPH is prepared to do additional testing.

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