While there is “no ongoing exposure” at Central, and the Tennessee Department of Health describes the risk as “minimal,” according to Rafalowski’s letter, the school system and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department (SCRHD) will co-host a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday (September 25) for parents, students and family members to hear medical professionals explain TB. The meeting will include an opportunity to ask questions and is scheduled to take place in the Board Room on the first floor of the building that houses both the school department and the SCRHD. It is located at 154 Blountville Bypass.
“TB is rarely spread to persons who spend a small amount of time with an active case of TB,” Rafalowski’s letter states, in part. “There is no risk of transmission from surfaces, handshake, clothing, restroom or classroom facilities at Sullivan Central.”
The letter also states “If it is determined your child needs to be tested for the TB germ, you will be contacted by the Sullivan County (Regional) Health Department.”
Everything below comes directly from the Centers for Disease Control:
• You may have been exposed to TB bacteria if you spent time near someone with TB disease. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings.
• You cannot get TB from: clothes; drinking glass; eating utensils; handshake; toilet, other surfaces.
• If you think you have been exposed to someone with TB disease, you should contact your doctor or local health department about getting a TB skin test or a special TB blood test. Be sure to tell the doctor or nurse when you spent time with the person who has TB disease.
• It is important to know that a person who is exposed to TB bacteria is not able to spread the bacteria to other people right away. Only persons with active TB disease can spread TB bacteria to others. Before you would be able to spread TB to others, you would have to breathe in TB bacteria and become infected. Then the active bacteria would have to multiply in your body and cause active TB disease. At this point, you could possibly spread TB bacteria to others. People with TB disease are most likely to spread the bacteria to people they spend time with every day, such as family members, friends, coworkers, or schoolmates.
• Some people develop TB disease soon (within weeks) after becoming infected, before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick years later, when their immune system becomes weak for another reason. Many people with TB infection never develop TB disease.
• There are two kinds of tests that are used to detect TB bacteria in the body: the TB skin test (TST) and TB blood tests. A positive TB skin test or TB blood test only tells that a person has been infected with TB bacteria. It does not tell whether the person has latent TB infection (LTBI) or has progressed to TB disease. Other tests, such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum, are needed to see whether the person has TB disease.