An Ada City Schools student has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, the administrative director of the Pontotoc County Health Department said Thursday.
Local health officials are not identifying the student by name, age, gender or grade due to privacy concerns, Michael Echelle said during a news conference at the school district’s administration building. He said officials do not yet know how the infected student contracted TB.
Dr. Charles Harvey, a medical consultant and associate TB control officer with the state health department, said the student started receiving treatment as soon as he or she was identified. The student was isolated to prevent further transmission of TB bacteria and will remain in isolation until he or she is longer contagious, which could take anywhere from two weeks to three months.
“It’s usually less than a month,” Harvey said.
Even after the student is no longer contagious, officials will continue monitoring him or her to ensure that the student is not transmitting TB bacteria, said Lauri Smithee, acute disease control chief and TB control officer for the state health department.
The health department has identified students who may have been exposed to the disease while attending Ada High School, and they will need to be tested for TB.
Health officials met with school representatives Thursday morning to discuss the case and supplied them with a letter explaining the situation, as well as a fact sheet with information about TB, Echelle said. Officials also hosted an informational meeting for students.
“The letter basically states that we’ve identified a student that was confirmed positive for tuberculosis disease and then that we, through our disease investigation, have identified the classes which the student attended as well as the faculty,” he said. “So we are notifying all students. We’re notifying the faculty.”
Ada Superintendent Pat Harrison said the school district sent copies of the letter and fact sheet home with all students on Thursday and notified parents through a phone alert system.
TB infection is detected with a skin test. Two tests are required — one now, and a second test in three months. If the test is positive, a chest X-ray and other tests will be performed to make sure the person does not have TB disease.
The local health department will administer skin tests to students who may have been exposed to TB between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, at Ada Cougar Activity Center. Parents and legal guardians will need to sign a consent form before their child can be tested.
The health department will return to the Activity Center at 8 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, to read the test results. People whose children cannot be evaluated on both dates should contact the health department, which will provide any follow-up testing if needed.
TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria which usually affects the lungs. The bacteria spread when someone with the disease coughs, sneezes, laughs or sings, launching the bacteria into the air.
Symptoms may include feeling weak or sick, weight loss, fever and night sweats. People who have TB of the lungs may complain of coughing, chest pain and/or coughing up blood.
People with a TB infection have the bacteria in their body but are not sick because the bacteria are inactive, according to information from the state health department. They cannot spread the bacteria to others, but they may develop TB disease in the future if the bacteria become active.
Harvey said Oklahoma has reported approximately 40 cases of TB since Jan. 1, which is slightly lower than usual.