The Douglas County Health Department completed testing of students, teachers and faculty at Benson Magnet High School for tuberculosis. A student was diagnosed with the illness late last month. Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour says out of 191 people at the school that were exposed, 171 were tested at the facility last week. Seven people tested positive but Dr. Pour believes they have latent TB.
Dr. Pour says, “Latent TB means the bacteria is sleeping and as long as the bacteria is sleeping you cannot infect anybody. Remember you can only infect when you have active disease, when you cough, when you sing, when you speak to individuals and that bacteria comes out of your mouth. It is actually in the air you are expelling. At this time those individuals are not infectious and they can stay in school.”
Those individuals are receiving medication that will kill the bacteria completely so it cannot become active at a later date. Officials believe the 20 individuals not tested at the school may have been tested by their private physician. At this time the investigation shows there is no further risk of exposure to active TB at the school
Dr. Pour says it does take eight to ten weeks for a TB test to turn positive after an exposure so they will do a second phase of testing at the end of February or early March.