HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) – The Jefferson County Health Department tested students at Homewood High School for tuberculosis throughout the day on Wednesday. This comes after a student tested positive for the disease earlier this week.
On Friday, the health department will return to the school to read the results of the test. Every student with a positive reaction will be sent home with a letter.
There is currently no vaccination in America that is used to prevent tuberculosis. However, health officials want the public to know that the disease is treatable, preventable and curable.
In 2014, 133 cases of tuberculosis were reported in Alabama. Jefferson County had 19 of those cases. According to state health department tuberculosis specialist, Dr. Karen Landers, it is still a very rare disease.
“To put it in perspective, I have worked around TB for many years — pretty much most of my career. And I have not been infected with the germ,” said Landers.
Someone can have a TB infection and not be aware of it, because the infection can stay dormant in the human body for years before it turns into TB disease. When you have the disease, that is when symptoms occur. This is why preventative screenings are important. If you catch the infection early, it can be cured with medication over a period of nine months.
“Tuberculosis is treatable. In terms of preventing it, we do an investigation of (each case) to determine who that person has been around that might be at risk for transmitting tuberculosis,” Landers said.
The health department is hosted a meeting for parents and community members at the Homewood City Schools board building Wednesday evening.
At the meeting, Dr. Edward Khan addressed parents’ questions and concerns, explaining that it is safe to send children to school.
“It’s usually less critical to, like, rush, rush, rush, and test everybody, than it is to just stop and think,” Khan said. “Who is at risk? Who needs to be tested? What’s the best way to do it? And set up a plan to do it.”
Khan said any students who test positive will undergo preventative treatment at no cost to the family.
Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News