What health experts want parents to know about tuberculosis - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

What health experts want parents to know about tuberculosis

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Health officials will begin testing all the students at Butler High for exposure to tuberculosis Monday.

They are expanding the skin tests to include 600 more students after several students tested positive for exposure to the disease last week.

Doctor Jim Wilde at Georgia Health Sciences is an expert on tuberculosis and he says parents don't have cause for concern.

"If my child was one of these children who have been exposed I would first of all relax it's not anything to be terribly concerned about," said Wilde.  

Wilde said, "About 10,000 to 15,000 people per year are diagnosed with tuberculosis in the United States. It's a highly treatable bacterial infection."

Right now a student at the school is being tested for TB after showing symptoms of the disease.

The bacteria are spread through the air, usually by coughing. The most common symptom of TB is a chronic cough and in extreme cases the disease can be deadly.

"Even with significant exposure your risk for becoming actively infected with tuberculosis is very low, 5% or less," Wilde, said.

Wilde says even if you become infected, you may not have active tuberculosis.

"Becoming infected does not mean you have active disease. It just means the bacteria have gone into your system. In most cases that bacterium becomes enclosed by the immune system and doesn't go any further," said Wilde.  

Even so, Wilde said students who tested positive for exposure to TB should be medicated, "Put them on one medication from six to nine months and that almost always prevents any further concerns of tuberculosis."

He says for serious cases of an active infection, patients receive at least three medications for six to nine months.

"Those medications are highly effective and the vast majority of people in the United States who get even active tuberculosis are completely cured of their infection," said Wilde.

Even so, health officials aren't taking any chances as they continue testing hundreds of students and teachers at Butler High.

Here's a look at the schedule for tests this week.

TB testing MONDAY through WEDNESDAY; Time 9:00 am to 2:30 pm

TB tests placed on Monday will be read on Wednesday

TB tests placed on Tuesday will be read on Thursday

TB tests placed on Wednesday will be read on Friday


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