BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — There may be more cases of tuberculosis at Homewood High School. According to public health authorities, the early results are in for the students and staff tested for tuberculosis last week.
The Jefferson County Department of Public Health is not releasing the exact number of positive tests at this point. A spokesperson says doctors need to see chest x-rays and blood tests from the impacted people to find out if they have active or latent cases of TB.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, only active cases of tuberculosis are contagious, and the bacteria is spread through coughing, talking, singing, and sneezing. The CDC says TB is treatable, but it requires taking several drugs for six months to a year. Failure to complete the entire cycle of medication can lead to harder-to-treat infections with treatment resistant strains of TB bacteria.
Parents we spoke with are pleased with how the Homewood City School District and the county health department are responding, but they are also worried.
“I hate to hear that they have other kids with positive results. I hate that for those families. But all I know to do is to trust that our school system’s watching out for our kids and that the health department’s on top of it,” said Homewood High School parent Donna Burgess.
Burgess also said, “I don’t know anything else to do except pray, pray and hope that we can stop this before gets out of hand.”
Homewood parent and pediatrician, Dr. Max Hale said his perspective on the risk of TB looks different when it involves his child’s school.
He said, “From a physician standpoint, we try to advise people to try not to worry until you have something shown that you should worry about. That’s difficult, I think, from the parent side of things because that’s kind of what we do.”
There’s still only one confirmed case of active tuberculosis at Homewood High School. The patient is a freshman, according to a release from Homewood City Schools and the JCDPH.
We’re told more than one thousand students and staff members took the TB skin tests, but the health department says about 50 students did not, because a number of students left town for Spring Break early. It’s unclear if that will delay the process of getting tested.
We’ll keep you posted with the latest news on this developing story.
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