Tb Case Poses Little Threat To Others At School, Officials Say

April 19, 2009|By John-John Williams IV

The Howard County Health Department, in conjunction with the school system, sent letters to parents at Oakland Mills High School on Tuesday informing them that a 14-year-old male student at the school is being treated for nonairborne tuberculosis.

Health officials say the student was diagnosed with the form of nonpulmonary tuberculosis in February and was removed from the school while he received initial treatment. The student, who is noncommunicable, has since returned to school. It is unknown how the student contracted the disease, but health officials said Thursday that the student did not contract the disease at school.

As a precautionary measure, a teacher and 11 students who had close contact with the student are being tested for the disease.

"With an absolute abundance of caution, we let the school know about this," said Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the county's health officer. "There was a minute chance that people were exposed."

The diagnosis is the first in the school system this school year, and it is the third in the county this calendar year. Last year, there were 11 cases of tuberculosis diagnosed in Howard County. There was just one case diagnosed in the school system, at Hammond High, last school year, Beilenson said.

In addition to the letters to parents Tuesday, Health Department officials had two meetings with teachers and parents Wednesday.

"It was an effort to be transparent," Beilenson said. "People were fairly well reassured."

Beilenson said that the Oakland Mills community has little to worry about.

"We feel very comfortable that the situation was handled appropriately," he said. "I'd be totally comfortable having my child in the school and not tested. I would not have one concern."

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