If you didnâ??t receive a notification from AISD regarding the possible Tuberculosis outbreak at Fannin middle school, consider it a good thing. According to local physicians, only those children with prolonged contact with the infected young girl would be considered to be at risk for the disease.
â??I think the people that they felt like needed to know were the children that were in close contact with this little girl. However it was handled was the way they felt would be best. And in general the other people that were in that school system were not felt to have a significant exposure and were felt to be totally safe,â?? said Shari Medford, a Pediatric Infectious Disease physician.
Tuberculosis or TB is a disease caused by a bacterium and is generally transmitted through coughs or sneezes that put droplets into the air that are then inhaled into the body. However, physicians say this is not something that can be picked up by minimal contact, such as shaking someoneâ??s hand, riding the bus or sharing drinks.
â??When youâ??re just walking down the hall by a person, thatâ??s very unlikely. What would concerning is the people that were in proximity with her for long periods of time,â?? said Medford.
â??So we really are confining our exploration of people who have had more prolonged contact with her, letâ??s say, in a classroom, in a close space. If youâ??re in a same space for hours, every week, those are the people who are at increased risk,â?? said Roger Smalligan, Chair of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech.
The young girl was taken out of school two weeks ago simply for being sick; school officials were not told the diagnosis was TB until yesterday. The girl also is known to have had contact with someone with Tuberculosis here in the city before she was diagnosed with it as well. Generally, symptoms can look very simple to a severe cold or pneumonia, making it hard to diagnose. Common symptoms include:
Parents should not automatically think there child has TB if they have these symptoms, especially since this time of year in Amarillo is common for allergies, asthma, and respiratory infections. These are common reasons why the child may have these symptoms. However, if the symptoms persist or are chronic, a parent should take their child to a physician and inform them of the childâ??s possible contact with active TB.
If a child does test positive in a skin TB test, that does not mean they necessarily have the disease.
â??Just because youâ??re infected doesnâ??t mean youâ??re contagious. So you actually have to have true pulmonary disease to be contagious to other people. So if youâ??re infected, and you have a positive test, but you donâ??t have any symptoms, youâ??re not considered to be contagious. If the kids are healthy, no fever, no cough, no other findings, no symptoms, they can be infected, not be contagious, and not have the disease from tuberculosis.â??