According to the Riverside County Department of Public Health, the Tahquitz High School student, whose name was not released, fell ill recently and was diagnosed with active tuberculosis.
“The student is receiving treatment and is expected to recover,” according to a health department statement, emphasizing that the teen “will not return to school until a medical clearance is issued.”
Efforts to identify individuals who had contact with the patient are ongoing. Health officials, in cooperation with the Hemet Unified School District, sent letters to the families of roughly 300 students, advising them of the availability of free TB screenings and for their child to obtain one as a precaution.
“The safety and well-being of our students and staff is of utmost importance, and we are thankful for the attention to detail the Department of Public Health and our staff have provided in this incident to ensure the safety of our community,” said HUSD Superintendent Christi Barrett.
The county’s public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, said the potential for the spread of TB in this case is “slight,” but he nonetheless encouraged those who may have been exposed to “take the time to get tested.”
“The testing is simple, does not take much time and can provide peace of mind,” Kaiser said.
TB screening begins with a quick skin test. If that turns up positive, the person is asked to take a chest X-ray to confirm infection.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tuberculosis is spread through coughing, sneezing, singing and speaking. People cannot be infected through hand-shaking, kissing or handling bedding and toilet seats, according to the CDC.
Health officials noted that some people can be infected with TB without manifesting symptoms, which include fever, coughing, night sweats and chest pain. Those with inactive TB are generally not infectious.
According to county Infectious Diseases Specialist Barbara Cole, there were 51 confirmed TB cases in 2016, and 52 documented cases in 2015. Year-to- date figures for this year were not immediately available.
–City News Service
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