SRHD Investigating Possible Tuberculosis Case

SRHD Investigating Possible Tuberculosis Case

Mar 06, 2009

School Children and Others at Potential Risk Are Being Tested

The Health District is investigating a possible active case of tuberculosis (TB) detected in a student at Roosevelt Elementary School. Children, staff and volunteers who had prolonged contact with the person are being offered precautionary testing, to determine if they have been exposed. A letter went home to inform the school community about the situation. The school is working closely with the Health District, and will continue to keep parents updated as the situation evolves. If the investigation identifies other who may have been at risk, the Health District will contact those people/parents directly.

"Although it is rare for a child with TB to spread it, we want to take the precautionary step of testing those who spent the most direct time with the child who is suspected of having TB," said Julie Tomaro, Coordinator for the Spokane Regional Health District's Tuberculosis Program.

Initial tests to determine if the student has active TB infection show that TB disease is a likelihood, however the Health District is waiting for further results from more definitive lab tests to find out if this is a case of TB disease. 

About Tuberculosis:
Tuberculosis is a disease that spreads from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but may affect other parts of the body. When a person with TB of the lung coughs, sneezes, laughs or sings, the germs can be put into the air. People who share the same air for long periods may become infected. TB infection can be successfully treated with antibiotics. In most people who become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop it from growing. The bacteria become inactive, but remain alive in the body and in one out of ten cases, it can become active later in life.

Casual exposure to an infectious case of TB does not lead to infection in most people. Most people who become infected can still prevent the disease through antibiotic treatment, and they are not contagious.

An average of about eight cases of active TB disease are diagnosed in Spokane every year. Each case of TB results in intensive and expensive investigations and contact management. The Spokane Regional Health District works closely with state health officials and local medical providers to control TB by ensuring that people with TB and their close contacts get the evaluation and treatment they need.

TB services provided by the Spokane Regional Health District include:
Disease surveillance and contact investigation of people with active TB disease, treatment for latent (dormant) TB, patient and public education, TB testing for high-risk employment, case management, laboratory testing services, and screening for anyone who wants to know if they may have exposed to TB. The Health District uses state-of-the art blood testing, which is much more accurate than the skin test in identifying TB.

The Spokane Regional Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention and response, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats.

TB Fact Sheet (PDF)