Department of Public Health: 'TB not an emergency'

The Department of Public Health will administer nearly 130 skin tests to students and faculty at Fannin Middle School.

Officials at the Department of Public Health confirm a student at Fannin Middle School has an active case of tuberculosis (TB), though the department does not consider it an emergency.

"TB is a serious condition, and it's a serious illness but it's not an emergency," Director of the Department of Public Health Dr. Matt Richardson said.

Richardson said the department is treating the case by strict Center for Disease and Control guidelines. TB is a disease spread through the air, meaning students could contract it through coughs and sneezes. Richardson said not everyone infected with the TB bacteria becomes sick, and as a result two TB-related conditions exist: latent and active.

Dr. Roger Smalligan with Texas Tech Health Sciences Department said, "We're hoping to identify anyone in the latent stage because there is a very effective treatment for that."

Nearly 130 persons including faculty and students will be tested Monday. The department will administer skin tests, and if any test positive -- additional testing will then take place to include a chest X-ray.

"Treatments for active TB are the same as latent TB," Richardson said, "An antibiotic therapy once a month just to eliminate it from their body."

If a person is diagnosed with active TB four different antibiotics will be administered, but Richardson said the department doesn't expect to see any additional active cases.

Common symptoms include: chest pain, chills, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, weakness and weight loss.