Fort Bend County Health & Human Services is continuing the routine investigation as a result of active tuberculosis (TB) at George Bush High School.
The health department and other staff conducted TB testing at the high school on June 19. Testing for infection was conducted using a blood test. Information leading up to the testing date was sent to those families who had a student needing to be tested. A second letter was sent to the rest of the families and staff that did not need to be tested.
Although 647 students and 27 faculty were informed that they needed testing, only 228 individuals came to the school for testing on June 19.
During this first round of testing, six individuals were identified with a positive blood test, indicating infection with the bacteria that causes TB. A positive test does not mean that the person is ill with active TB disease; it simply means that they have been exposed to the bacteria and are infected. They may never develop TB disease and cannot spread the disease to anyone else while only having a positive test for infection. The health department will offer preventative medication to these individuals to reduce the likelihood of future illness.
Health department protocol requires a stepwise investigation for possible infections from the source case. First, family are tested and then if necessary those who have the next closest contact, which may be coworkers or classmates. Depending on the results of the testing, the investigation may be over or more testing may be recommended.
Tuberculosis is a disease caused by bacteria. It typically causes a disease of the lungs, but can affect other organs of the body. While tuberculosis can spread from person to person, it usually takes prolonged close contact with a person with active disease. It cannot be spread as easily as a cold, or flu or measles, but may be spread if droplets coughed or sneezed into the air reach the lungs of another person.
Symptoms of tuberculosis include persistent and productive cough lasting more than two weeks, unexplained fevers, night sweats, unexplained weight loss or coughing up blood. Anyone with those symptoms should go to their health care provider. Others who are not considered at risk, but who just want testing, may visit their private physician or a health department clinic. Parents who received notification that their student needed to be tested but did not bring them on June 19, should bring the student to the health department clinic located at 4520 Reading Road in Rosenberg for testing before July 14.
The health department will be conducting a second round of testing at the school on Aug. 3. All 647 students and 27 faculty who were previously notified must attend the testing on that date, unless already identified as positive during the first round of testing.