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Texas High School Children Possibly Exposed To Tuberculosis

International Business Times logo International Business Times 12/8/2017 Gayathri Anuradha

© Provided by IBT US

About 150 students at J.M Hanks High School in El Paso, Texas, may have been exposed to tuberculosis, health department officials said Thursday.

According to local reports, an investigation was launched by the city’s Department of Public Health into the possible exposure, which was believed to have been caused by students coming into close contact with someone who had an active case of the disease.

Letters would also be sent to parents informing them that their children may have had close contact with someone with tuberculosis. They would also be invited to an informational meeting, local publication El Paso Times reported, citing Robert Resendes, director of the city's Department of Public Health.

Resendes also stated that free testing would be made available to those who may have been exposed. "I'd like everyone to have the results before they break for Christmas break," Resendes said.

It was not revealed if the person with the active case of TB was a student. Resendes stated that the infected person in the Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) case was diagnosed with the illness this week. Investigators went back three months to determine who may have been exposed and may need testing, reports said.

"People should not be very concerned about this, we do this all the time. It’s kind of routine for us," Resendes said.

A spokeswoman with YISD told ABC News affiliate KVIA-TV in a statement:

"We are working closely with the health department and now have their permission to disclose that Hanks High School is the campus where the active case of tuberculosis was found. The health department instructed us not to disclose this information earlier today. But after we received numerous parent concerns, they have now authorized us to name Hanks High School as the affected campus. We cannot disclose any other details as per the directive of the city health department. We apologize for any undue anxiety this may have caused parents at our other campuses, and we appreciate the community's patience and understanding in this matter. Thank you."

"The health and well-being of our community is our utmost priority, and we ask that parents who receive the Department of Public Health letter participate in the screening process so we can determine whether or not their child is infected, and provide appropriate evaluation and treatment," Resendes said in a statement Thursday.

School district officials also said they were cooperating fully with the health department and were following all the procedures.

The potentially serious, infectious disease mainly affects lungs and spreads from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes, health department officials said.

"You have to spend time very closely with someone for hours each day and days on end," Resendes said while talking about how the diseased may be acquired. He added that it would be difficult to spread in a classroom setting, where children switch classes every 45 minutes.


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