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TB Investigation Underway At Austin School

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An investigation is underway to make sure one case of tuberculosis at an Austin high school doesn't turn into several more. Health officials confirmed one person at McCallum High School has an active case of TB.

Neither health officials nor AISD is saying who the infected person is.

We do know 170 people at the school were just screened for TB and no other active cases were found.

"We have worked very closely with AISD and school officials to follow the guidelines we have for the investigation of TB in finding staff and students," said Director of the Communicable Disease Unit for Austin's Health and Human Services Department Saeed Azadi.

That investigation started after Travis County Health officials confirmed someone at McCallum had an active case of TB.

"When they talk, when they sing, when they speak, they could expel these germs into the air and people that are close to them, or have contact with them could breathe them in and could become infected with TB," he said.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that, when active, attacks the person's lungs and other parts of the body. There are two types, active and latent TB.

Ninety percent of the time even if you're infected and you're healthy the germs don't multiply and you're fine. In just 10 percent of cases, if your body is weak it turns into an active case.

"A cough that doesn't go away, coughing up blood, chills, fever, chest pain and so forth," said Azadi.

TB is treatable. That's why Travis County Health officials say it's important to know who has it in order to keep it under control.

"In Travis County we have our numbers pretty much under control at this point. However, with the population growing in Travis County and Austin that could change in the future. The more people we have to serve obviously there is a chance to having higher number of TB cases that have to be managed," Azadi said.

In 2012 Travis County had 37 confirmed TB cases. There were 42 cases last year. The average here is 50.

As for McCallum, it can take weeks for germs to turn into tuberculosis, so a second round of screening will be done in a few more weeks to make sure all is clear.

AISD leaders said no one was available today due to the Good Friday holiday.

By Ericka Miller

TB Investigation Underway At Austin School


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