More TB tests needed at Bellaire High School

Some students and one teacher identified in the 'risk group'

Published On: Sep 14 2012 12:26:24 AM CDT   Updated On: Sep 14 2012 06:21:52 AM CDT
Bellaire High School
BELLAIRE, Texas -

New information about Tuberculosis was given during an informational meeting at Bellaire High School Thursday night. 

About 20 concerned parents listened to doctors talk about the recent case of TB at the school and were able to get their questions answered. 

Dr. Jeff Starke, an infectious disease specialist, told the group that no other students or staff members have gotten sick but more testing will be done. 

The health department conducted a contact investigation. They identified the infected person then determined who that person comes in contact with most throughout the day. 

Students who have two or more classes with the infected person will get tested for TB. 

Officials said that group of students is small and one teacher will also need to get tested. 

Those individuals will be notified on Friday when a letter will be sent home. Depending on the results of those TB tests, more tests could be needed.   

"We will contact those parents directly first by phone before contacting the students," said Gwen Johnson, Health and Medical Manager for the Houston Independent School District. "We'll help the parent identify whether they want the letter to go home with their child or if they'd like to come to school to pick that up."

Some parents expressed concern about the confidentiality of the letter being passed out at school and the district insists the situation will be handled carefully and professionally. 

"If more students in the risk group are identified it is going to be handled in a very methodical fashion," Johnson said. 

Officials at the meeting told parents not to panic. Tuberculosis, they said, is treatable and preventable. Last year, there were about 400 cases of TB diagnosed in the Houston area. Dr. Starke also told the group that it is very rare to have wide spread infection in a school because of good air flow in classrooms and hallways. 

Officials won't say whether it's a student or staff member who has TB at Bellaire High School because of privacy laws, but they said this person was diagnosed over the summer and is no longer contagious. 

For more information on tuberculosis, visit www.cdc.gov/tb/.