Franklin High students, teachers tested by county for tuberculosis

October 09, 2002|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

To prevent the spread of tuberculosis found in a Franklin High School student Friday, county health workers tested 90 classmates and teachers for exposure to the communicable disease yesterday.

"This is a routine investigation," said Dr. Michelle A. Leverett, Baltimore County's health officer. "We're doing everything we can to make sure this does not spread."

The student, a senior at Franklin High in Reisterstown, is recovering at home from the infection, Leverett said. The student is undergoing treatment that could take as long as a year.

Leverett said another 35 classmates and teachers must be tested today in order to make sure no one who came into close contact with the 12th-grader was exposed to TB, an infection of the lungs that is contracted by inhalation.

The county health department first learned of the suspected case Oct. 1 and began to investigate who may have come into close contact with the student, said spokeswoman Karen Stott. The student was confirmed to have TB on Friday.

On Monday, Franklin High sent home letters with all students, advising of the case. Classmates of the student were asked to submit to testing.

"Although your child is considered to be at minimal risk for infection, tuberculin screening is recommended," the letter said.

"Exposure does not mean you have the disease. It just means you were exposed," said Michelle O. Prumo, coordinator of health services for county schools.

She said it was not important classmates and teachers weren't tested immediately. She said tuberculosis cases happen infrequently in the county schools.

Dean P. Terry, Franklin principal, said some parents had called to request testing of their children, even though the students had not been identified as needing the test, a skin culture that takes 48 hours for results. Terry said the parents' requests were mostly granted.

Otherwise at the school, the principal said, "things are going well."

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