About 35 South Mecklenburg High School students are being tested for tuberculosis this week after a student there was diagnosed with an active TB case.
The diagnosed student is being treated and is “under isolation” until the threat of contagion has passed, according to Dr. Steve Keener, medical director of the Mecklenburg County Health Department. Treatment with a series of antibiotics will take six to nine months.
Students who are being tested had “significant” exposure to tuberculosis because they were in the same class with the diagnosed student, Keener said.
“We don’t expect anybody else to get sick,” he said. “Only a small proportion of people that are exposed actually get infected, and only a small proportion of people who get infected actually get disease.”
People who have been infected with TB can take antibiotics to prevent disease, he said.
“Even people who have disease can take antibiotics for six to nine months and be cured. TB seems to scare a lot of people. It’s not something that is in everyday conversation. But this is something that can be cured. It’s not spread real readily. It’s moderately contagious but not highly contagious.”
Keener said Mecklenburg health officials investigate 25 to 35 cases of TB per year, which is the “lowest it’s ever been. We used to have twice that many cases.”
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