Active Tuberculosis found in MCPS

March 17, 2005, midnight | By Karima Tawfik | 16 years, 3 months ago

Two MCPS students were diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB) in January, prompting MCPS to conduct skin tests between Feb. 8 and 10 for 229 students and faculty members who had been in contact with the diagnosed students.

Tests were conducted at Glenallan and Kemp Mill Elementary Schools and at E.
Brooke Lee Middle School.

Of those tested, 24 individuals were positive, indicating that they had been exposed to TB at some point in their lives. Further tests of these 24 individuals indicated that none of them had an active case of TB.

Without treatment, one in three patients with active TB dies within months of contracting the disease. It is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that usually attack the lungs and cause coughing, chest pain and bloody phlegm.

Symptoms of active TB include weight loss, fever, night sweats and loss of appetite.

TB is contagious; its bacteria spreads through sneezing and coughing. When a person breathes in the TB bacteria, the bacteria begins to grow within the lungs. From there, the bacteria can spread through the blood to other body parts, including the brain, spine and kidneys.

People with TB can be treated and cured if they seek medical help shortly after contraction. Those who have latent TB infections but are not yet sick can take antibiotics to prevent the development of active TB. Latent TB is not contagious and has no symptoms.

TB was the leading cause of death in the U.S. before 1940. Since then, TB cases have greatly declined, thanks to modern medicine. However, TB hasn't vanished completely: In the U.S. alone, 16,000 people had active TB in 2000, according to the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.

Lately, TB has been back on the rise, especially among people with HIV. The 24 individuals who tested positive in MCPS will be offered preventative antibiotic care at no cost. Without medical attention, there is a 10 percent chance that latent TB will develop into an active state.

Information compiled from a Montgomery County press release and the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.

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